Thanks to a philanthropist, remote villages in the Brahmaputra river islands in Assam will soon be lit up with solar street lights. The donor, Smti Almitra Patel, based at Bengaluru is a member of the Supreme Court committee for Solid waste management for Class 1 cities, Technical expert, Swachh Bharat Mission, Government of India, Clean Jharkhand Project and Ganga ICDP Kanpur. She felt the need of the communities inhabiting the islands while reading an article on the Boat Clinics written by Devjyot Ghosal in the Quartz India online magazine and appreciated C-NES’ innovative health outreach work in the Brahmaputra islands.
Partnering with Thrive Solar Energy Private Ltd, Hyderabad, which was recently awarded the second position in the category of Solar Home Systems by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Patel has donated one solar LED street light for every sapori , as the islands are called locally, that the Boat Clinics reach. These compact lights with built-in batteries, designed and manufactured in Hyderabad, were sent fully assembled and ready to mount on a bamboo pole within ten minutes by the community workers of the health team in each of the 15 Boat Clinic units in 13 districts who were earlier trained for the purpose.
Two young persons from the river island communities were nominated by C-NES to Hyderabad’s Thrive Company who were given a weeks hands on training on solar light. The lights will banish darkness, if located at 3-4m height, without affecting adaptability to darkness. If required for reading below them, they may have to be fitted on a shorter pole which the villagers can figure out, but casting a smaller pool of light. If the saporis change shape or disappear, the residents can carry the light along with their other belongings and easily re-erect it on a new bamboo pole. The lights themselves will have 10-20 years life without fading. They have sensors which will automatically illuminate when sun sets and will be off at sunrise. A token amount of Rs.100/- per light will be collected from the village so that the villagers have a sense of ownership.
A total of 339 Solar Street Lights (SSLs) is being donated in three batches. The first batch was for four mid Assam districts (Sonitpur, Morigaon,Nalbari,Kamrup) where 111 SSLs were installed. The second batch is for 5 upper Assam districts (Tinsukia, Dibrugarh,Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Jorhat) where 92 SSLs will be installed by February end
A committee consisting of the DPO, CW, Village Headman, ASHA/AWW, Malvi or religious leader (if installed in the premises of a religious institution), Teacher/ village leader has been accordingly formed in each village to manage the arrangement efficiently.