M. Soundariya Preetha
COIMBATORE: Subramaniam, 48, a watchman at Idayarpalayam village, 25 km east of Coimbatore, earns Rs. 2,000 a month.
About a decade ago, his monthly earning was just Rs. 1,000. Things changed when windmills started coming to the village in 1995. Subramaniam has been a watchman at a wind farm since then. Senthil Kumar from the same village, a farmer earlier, is now an operator at the same wind farm. During the last 10 years, about 500 windmills have been installed at Idayarpalayam, Bobampatti, Chinnakuyili, Ponnakani and Lakshminaikenpalayam.
They have provided employment to over 500 people from these villages as watchmen, operators or servicemen. They earn about Rs. 2,000. Earlier, the farms recruited even those who had just completed Class X as operators. Now, they demand a diploma or an ITI certificate, says Senthil.
It is not just the employment opportunities that have changed the face of the village. Land prices have shot up. Earlier, there were no takers even at Rs. 40,000 an acre for the rainfed land. However, now prices are ruling above Rs. 1 lakh an acre. Thanks to the windmills, the village hardly suffers any power cut. Besides, the windmill owners have helped upgrade the village school and build classrooms.
K. Kasthurirangaian, vice-chairman of the Indian Wind Power Association, points out that with more people visiting the wind farms from the city regularly, the village has better roads.