This is not the first time the State is launching a campaign to promote compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).

In early 2009, the then Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) tried to implement Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY), a nation-wide scheme of replacing incandescent bulbs (ICBs) with CFLs.

Cuddalore and Villupuram districts were chosen as pilot projects. Even an executing agency was selected. As the scheme was meant to be carried out through Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) process, the executing agency backed out as there was delay in registration of the BLY programme with the UN authorities, says a former official of the Tangedco.

In September 2010, the second attempt was made and this time, only Cuddalore district was selected. Initially, Chidambaram town was chosen. Under the BLY, each house was supposed to have been given four CFLs at Rs. 15 per lamp. But, again, the trouble started in no time.

As part of the BYL, the project executing agency had to make upfront investment and it was to get back the investment by trading carbon credits through the CDM process. But, after the carbon market started crashing at the international level by 2010 end, the executing agency started dragging its feet as it became obvious that it would not be possible to cover the investment, another official explains.

Baskar Natarajan of the Alliance for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, an organisation based in New Delhi, recalls how Kerala successfully carried out the BYL programme. It achieved savings of up to 300 MW. He also points to another successful experiment of the Railways which distributed around 18 lakh CFLs among its employees at a rate of four CFLs per employee during 2009-2010.

Asked about the likely impact of the Tamil Nadu government’s scheme for hut dwellers, Palani, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) functionary in-charge of Mylapore and who works among slum dwellers, says that the scheme will be a success as even economically weaker sections have started using CFLs.

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