India’s first solar village Bacha returned to limelight recently when newly appointed Governor Mangubhai C Patel visited the village, saw the solar powered equipment and had lunch with a tribal family.
The coveted tag was received by the village in year 2019. There are a total of 74 households in the settlement and each house is equipped with solar panels. No household uses any wooden stove or LPG cylinders for cooking food.
It was a joint venture between IIT Mumbai, ONGC and volunteer organisation Vidya Bharti which brought a turnaround in the remote village couple of years ago. These institutions had selected Bacha in year 2017 for turning it into a solar village. To start with, the project developers installed solar panels on every house and soon after power scarcity became a thing of the past for the village. Since then the village is completely powered by solar energy.
During the recent visit to the village on August 3, governor Mangubhai C Patel had said, “We all know that India’s soul lies in villages and Bacha is a prime example of this."
Patel planted a sampling at the local middle school and saw the activities of local women’s Self-help Group. The women claimed that they earn upto Rs 150 -200 a month. He had lunch at the residence of Anil Uike, one of the volunteers involved in the project and enjoyed tribal delicacies. The governor spoke to the women on how they are benefitted with the Induction stoves and solar power in their households.
Locals claim that solar power not only saved them from power outages and also they no longer need to look for wood for cooking food and a sense of environment conservation has been instilled among the locals.
Based in Ghodadongri block, the settlement has 74 households and women don’t wait for LPG cylinder or electricity to cook food as they prepare food on solar cookers.
Vidya Bharti, an educational wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had taken this initiative and urged IIT Bombay for technical help in converting Bacha into a solar village. On their request, the premier institution picked up some local youths and trained them with technical expertise required for the project maintenance so that things don’t break down in future after initial installation.
ONGC had joined hands with IIT Bombay and offered free of cost gas stoves to the locals.
“There are places in India where solar plates are used sporadically for cooking, but with the help of a team from IIT Mumbai, a special solar stove was developed. No trees are cut by the villagers now for lighting their stoves. The Central government’s decision to choose Bacha has changed has set an example which can be replicated to make other villages smoke and pollution free," social worker Nagar said on the project.
Nagar, who is also a member of NGO Bharat-Bharti Shiksha Samiti, spoke about the role played by the team from IIT Mumbai and also thanked Union Minister for Petrol and Energy, Dharmendra Pradhan.
He said that the project of installing solar power plates, batteries and stoves in all the 74 houses was started in September 2017 and got completed by December 2018.
Harvind, a villager, who had benefitted from the scheme said that they are now able to cook their food without hassle and it has also brought electricity to their homes.
“We can now cook our meals within half an hour and that too without the tension of smoke. We also don’t have to go to the jungles anymore for picking twigs and branches for the wooden stoves," said Harvind.
Jamuna Bai, a lady from the village termed it as a big development which has changed the lives of children and women across the village.
“Earlier our eyes used to burn while cooking meals, it was due to all the smoke. Our children too had to be sent to jungles instead of schools but the situation has changed now. We all get time for ourselves and the kids can study now," Jamuna Bai said.
Due to switch over to solar energy has also helped in environment conservation and illegal felling of trees has reduced in last two years in nearby forests, Rajendra Kavde, village sarpanch said. As we have stopped using wood and coal for cooking food, the village looks much cleaner, said Kavde, adding village’s name was forwarded to New Delhi got Swachhta rankings recently the results for which is awaited.
Besides attaining self-sufficiency in power, the village also achieved self-dependency in water availability in the past.
Using pipes, villagers channelize the water to beneath the ground at hand pumps and from rooftops. This ensured that the locals never face shortage of water even in summer. Mithilesh Kavde, a local resident said that the village has 14 hand pumps and excess water earlier wasted here is directed to soakpits. While household waste water in diverted to kitchen gardens which also helps in growing vegetables and fruits throughout the year.
There is separate arrangement for water supply to cattle and villagers who have built small stop dam like structures at small rivers and nullah to ensure that there is no shortage of water for agriculture purposes.
You can visit any corner of the village, it will look clean and tidy, said one of the volunteers Anil Uike adding locals ensure that no plastic or garbage reaches any water source. This keeps the village and the water sources swachh, he added.
To add, prior to this project, this was a parched landscape where locals walked miles to fetch water. In summers, locals even have to migrate to other places at times when the village was hit by acute water scarcity. However modern systems like stop dam, ground water recharge and soakpits have brought about a complete turnaround in the region.
With these unique initiatives, the village has earned global fame and students and experts visit the village from far off places. Students and management graduates of eight countries have visited the village in the past for watching the modern self-sufficiency model in front of their eyes.
(With Inputs ANI)