The cosy interiors of the bus provide the right ambience for working as well as sleeping. The writing desk, when lifted vertically at 90 degrees, doubles up as a presentation whiteboard.
All but the automobile engine runs on solar power. Even on a dim-lit day, the 3.2kW solar panels and 6kWh battery for storage easily support the lights, fan, cooler, television, air conditioner, computer and kitchen stove.
Welcome to the makeshift residence of Chetan Singh Solanki. A professor from IIT Bombay, Prof. Solanki is the brand ambassador for solar energy for the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the founder of ‘Energy Swaraj Foundation’ that aims at spurring every citizen into undoing the havoc wrought on the environment and reduce usage of ‘unclean energy’. In fact, his clarion call to every citizen is to go ‘grid-independent’.
The academic strongly believes that solid results can only be achieved with drastic and immediate action and not by perfunctory steps such as debating for hours on action plans or switching off the light for an hour.
“The CoP summits are setting goals, the successive governments are bringing policies, IITs are suggesting new systems and the NGOs are ushering in the change, but the carbon emissions have not decreased and climate change is still accelerating. It is not the government, but an individual’s resolve to shun luxury and minimise needs that works”, Prof. Solanki tells The Hindu.
A grit-personified Prof. Solanki had taken a vow not to visit home for 11 years and has been staying in the bus since November 2020. As his nationwide tour ‘Energy Swaraj Yatra’ reached Tirupati, he completed 532 of the scheduled 3,687 days, covering 20,840 km and meeting 98,580 persons.
In a freewheeling chat with this correspondent he calls the EV (electric vehicles) as a small step in the direction that however tends to create another source of pollution instead of offering a wholesome solution.
He settles for nothing less than total elimination of the sources of carbon emission. “Fifty per cent of the carbon emissions witnessed since human evolution was contributed in the last 30 years. Nobody is realising that we are sitting on a ticking time bomb where drastic and immediate action is necessary,” he cautions.