Villagers' pride, neighbours' envy

Villagers' pride, neighbours' envy

Rampura village in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh is a non-descript village, some 350 km from the state capital Lucknow. It would not have made news at all. But the village has won accolades for its unique effort. The villagers are reaping the benefits now.
   While most parts of the state rush to candles or rechargeable lights, villagers in Rampura use the solar lights. Uttar Pradesh, like many other states in the country, has been reeling under long spells of load shedding. Uttar Pradesh has a long history of villages without power for most part of the day and night.

    Villagers moved heaven and earth to get the power supply to the village.
    Their representations to elected representatives and government officials for power supply to the village fell on deaf ears. The village is not part of any VIP constituency also.

   ``Earlier we used to envy the electric poles and wires in the neighbouring villages...we also tried our best and approached the officials and our representatives for electrification of the village but to no avail'', the pradhan (panchayat chief) of the village Ghanshyam Yadav Yadav said.
    Unable to put up with these hardships, some villagers decided to act and act swiftly to ensure that they reap the benefits of alternative sources of energy at virtually no recurring cost.

``We approached a voluntary organisation. The NGO instantly agreed when it saw our determination'', Yadav said. The only assurance to the NGO was that they would work voluntarily for the establishment of plant.    The NGO suggested establishing of a nine kilowatt community solar power plant. The problem of providing land for the plant was quickly resolved when the villagers voluntarily donated their land for the purpose.

``The work for the powerhouse began on December 27, 2008 and villagers made a beeline for shramdaan for the power plant, which was to bring happiness and progress in the village'', said the village chief.

    ``Now we have a solar power plant in the village and there is round-the-clock power supply'', Yadav said adding that the villagers have also constructed a community park near the power plant, where the children could play in the nights also as it remains lighted up. ``There is an elected committee of the villagers which is responsible for looking after the plant....an account has also been opened with a local bank'', the pradhan said.

``The villagers willingly pay the maintenance cost of the plant...there is no problem in realising the cost'', Yadav said.

    As the capacity of the solar power plant is only nine kilowatt, the power generated by it is not used for pumping of water or heating of the water during the winter. ``The power is mainly used for lighting the street and powering the cooking stoves, which few families in the village have'', Yadav says.
When pointed out that the power supply from the plant could get affected during the winters and rainy seasons when the sky is overcast, Yadav said that village, which lies in the backward Bundelkhand region of the state, has mainly dry climate.
``The region has not experienced good rainfall for the last several years...drought-like conditions prevail here...in winters also we have good sunshine'', he said. 

     The village pradhan proudly says that earlier the neighbouring villages, where electrification had been done, were objects of envy for us but now they envy us as while they experience prolonged power cuts, some times for days together, our village remains lit up all the time. The solar power plant project of Rampura had earned praise from abroad as well.

 When the large parts including the major cities and towns reel under 12 to 16 hours load shedding owing to acute power shortage in the state, Rampura village stands out as an example and if replicated it could solve the power woes of many villages to some extent.

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