India Beyond Coal

Jan 2 2013

A story of a solar solution!

We usually equate Goa with sunny beaches, coconut trees and a laid back life. But in the interior regions of Goa and Karnataka lie the most beautiful forests teeming with wildlife. One such area is the Castle Rock- Kuveshi region that is part of the Western Ghats landscape .The area is at an elevation of 2,040 ft and is home to tropical deciduous, evergreen & semi-evergreen vegetation which is typical of the Western Ghats and are home to gaur, tigers, leopards, sambar, spotted deer, mouse deer, barking deer, sloth bear, slender loris to name but a few.

In this area, on the border of Goa and Karnataka lies the village of Kuveshi where Nirmal Kulkarni and his team at the Hypnale research station have undertaken a project entitled the 100 Solar Lamps Project. The area has small hamlets where electricity has not reached due to remote locations, non-availability of infrastructure and existing wildlife laws of the land. While the Karnataka Government has made attempts to provide solar power for households in the villages that are part of this landscape, many have been dysfunctional due to lack of maintenance and faults in batteries.

Nirmal and his team realized that school students and the people in these areas found it difficult to study and complete household work without natural light. The local community use forest paths in the night without torches, as they cannot afford them. This increases the chances of them being bitten by scorpions, snakes and other lesser wildlife. Solar lanterns appeared to be a definite help to reduce instances of human-wildlife conflict and enable that communities in this region were safe. At the same time, the solar lanterns provided by the Hypnale Research Station are part of a renewable energy solution to the problem of climate change. Instead of demanding that grid based electricity reach them, a clean, decentralized, renewable energy solution was implemented to solve the problem.

As the first stage of this project they have identified 12 schools across 12 small village hamlets for distribution of D Lite Solar lanterns. The D Lite solar lanterns are easy to use and have the highest standards in terms of quality, harnessing of solar power and ruggedness in adverse conditions. The light emitted from these lanterns is soothing and thus can be used by children for their studies and people to complete household chores post sunset.

Today they have successfully covered 3 schools and are awaiting additional supply to cover the rest of them in a phased manner. The village of Kuveshi where the Station is based has been a study model for us and we have observed the lanterns being used to their maximum limit by children as well as adults.

The team continues to seek funds and support in this project. If you’d like to know more about the project you can contact Nirmal

Written by Renuka Saroha