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At last, a ray of hope for the people of this remote area

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REACHING AMENITIES: A solar streetlight at one of the villages in Punajanur Gram Panchayat limits in Chamarajnagar district.
REACHING AMENITIES: A solar streetlight at one of the villages in Punajanur Gram Panchayat limits in Chamarajnagar district.

Shankar Bennur

All 254 houses to get solar lighting facility in two months

MYSORE: After living in darkness for many years owing to absence of electricity supply, people living in villages around Punajanur on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border in Chamarajanagar district can now light up their homes, thanks to the Integrated Rural Energy Programme (IREP) of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR), a solar-based energy project that has been launched in five backward villages under Punajanur Gram Panchayat. The Solar Home Lighting Project, which has been launched on an experimental basis by the RDPR, is an effort to encourage gram panchayats to use non-conventional energy resources and become self-reliant.

Bedaguli, Marigudipodu, Bisilagerepodu, Ramaianapodu, Kadigerepodu, and Mannukaipodu villages have been included in this ambitious project. "The villagers, mostly farmers and workers, can see change once their homes are lit up from solar power," says project engineer S. Murtuza Ali. According to him, the five villages are deprived of electricity as they are located close to the reserve forest. "Many risk factors are involved in laying transmission lines bisecting the jungles for supplying power to these villages. If the power lines get snapped, it could be hazardous for wild animals. Hence, the villages did not get electricity," he said.

Officials of the RDPR said the project was an effort to take non-conventional energy to the doorsteps of villagers who were facing problems owing to no electricity supply and firewood scarcity.

Work on the project will begin soon. All 254 houses would get solar lighting in the next two months, they said.

Each solar photovoltaic home lighting system comprising two lamps would be fixed in every house. Each system would cost Rs. 9,500. The Soura Shakthi Balakedarara Sangha (Solar Energy Users Committee) had been entrusted with the task of maintenance, Mr. Ali said.

The villagers were depending on firewood for cooking and other purposes. This had increased pressure on the forests. On an average, each family of six persons had been using 35 kg of firewood for cooking and other purposes. To reduce the pressure on the forests and thereby support the forest authorities in protecting forest wealth, the RDPR, under IREP, distributed energy-efficient smokeless stoves to 254 families, Mr. Ali said.

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