Igniting a solar revolution in India's villages

Reading time: 4 minutes
12 November 2014

NEW DELHI: This week The Climate Group India held a community event in West Bengal to raise awareness of solar powered lights for villagers' homes.

With a vision to solarize hundreds of homes in Indian villages, a day-long event was organized in Bangalapur High School, Bagnan, West Bengal, India on November 8, 2014. Over 2,000 people who came during the course of the day attended the event, to support the need for solar home lights in their households.

ONergy organized the village event titled ‘‘Let's Join Hands for a Solar Revolution” to create awareness on climate change and solar energy, using folk art and other creative mediums to reach out to the masses.

The event was conducted with the support of The Climate Group under the project Bijli – Clean Energy for All principally funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. It was co-organized by the Bagnan Grameen Mahila Sammelan, a women’s self-help group in Bagnan, who are working with Switch ON for distribution of hand-held lanterns in the area and spread knowledge about the benefits of solar home lighting systems and the need to support the low carbon environment.

On the success of the village event, Piyush Jaju, Co-Founder and CEO ONergy says, “We are delighted to partner with The Climate Group, to bring such high impact events to rural communities, whom we are serving. This will provide a great impetus in ensuring adoption of solar energy, as we are able to reach out simultaneously to our end customers, partners, banks and local government bodies through this initiative”.

A "sit & draw" competition was organized for the local children based on topics surrounding the solar initiative. This was followed by a panel discussion on the ‘Status of solar energy & its application in West Bengal’. The panelists were prominent experts in the field of sustainable development including, agriculture, journalism, forest conservation, green building, academics & renewable energy sector. At the end of the day, the winners of the painting competition were announced and each of them was awarded with a solar home light (Sun king pro).

Parallel to these events, there was also an exhibition on solar technology for the purposes highlighted by this initiative. This helped provide insights into the evolution of solar technology and its application in a contemporary setting.

Keeping in mind the apprehensions and doubts of the villagers and young children, an open discussion centered on the need for solar energy and how one can adopt a low carbon lifestyle.

The event was concluded with a folk music concert by international folk artist – Golam Fakir. Other prominent artists performed were Shyam Khyapa, Sonatan Das and Mohan Tati

Present at the inauguration were dignitaries including The Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly, Shri Asit Mitra and The Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly Mr. Arunovo Sen. Were also present at the event, along with other prominent dignitaries from Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, non-governmental organizations, government bodies, institutions and panchayats - that is a local self-government institution in a small town or village level, in India.

Special guest for the event, Aditi Dass, Director Programs, The Climate Group was elated by the enthusiasm of the villagers during the event. She comments, “It’s wonderful to see little children show so much interest in solar and the fact that they induce so much knowledge about renewable energy. The rural community in Bagnan is extremely strong and united to develop and strengthen the solar revolution we envision through our project Bijli- Clean Energy for All.

"The lack of sustainable and reliable energy combined with increasing impacts of climate change, is having a huge detrimental impact on the development of rural West Bengal and hindering its over all growth."

"Even though solar is not a new technology, it hasn’t reached its target audience due to vast gaps in awareness as well as access,” says Sudipta Dawn of ONergy. “Solar Energy has the capability to address a lot of social challenges in rural areas if we can spread awareness and develop a sustainable model for deployment and after sales service. Such events help us to establish stronger relations with the local community.”

ONergy started in 2009 as an offshoot of “Switch ON” an NGO, which was instrumental in spreading awareness about climate change and sustainability. The Climate Group has been supporting Switch ON to promote livelihoods through sustainable development in increasing energy access to undeserved populations in rural areas in West Bengal. As part of Bijli- Clean Energy for All programme, The Climate Group has partnered with Switch ON in West Bengal, who provides high quality, hand-held solar lanterns through micro credit services.

See the photos of the event here:

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by Anisha Laming

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