Guwahati, 22nd May 2017: C-NES’ Jorhat Boat Clinic is probably the first in the country to be installed with solar power to run the entire medical and diagnostic equipment’s including a dental setup and a 50 ltr solar refrigerator to store vaccines. The boat now also has power supply available to cater to the entire lighting requirement 24×7. The system was donated and commissioned on 21st April 2017 by SELCO Foundation. The Boat Clinics of Assam provides primary health care service to the remote isolated island communities on the river Brahmaputra. The first Boat Clinic was started in Dibrugarh in May 2005 and was christened “AKHA” meaning Hope. Since 2008 under PPP with National Health Mission, Govt. of Assam, 15 Boat Clinics have been operating in 13 districts along the river providing health services focusing mainly on mother and child through Routine Immunization, Ante Natal Care, Post Natal Care, Family Planning services, General Health Checkups, Laboratory & Pharmacy Service and extensive awareness on Health & Hygiene.
SELCO Foundation of Bengaluru, Karnataka is a division of Solar Electric Light Company, India or SELCO India which was founded in 1995. SELCO has played an instrumental role in improving living standards of poor households in rural India especially in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat through solar energy based interventions. In recognition of the services towards reduction of the gap in access to energy, the organization has been awarded the prestigious Ashden Award (also known as the Green Oscars) twice, in years 2005 and 2007. The CEO Mr. Harish Hunde was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2011 for “his pragmatic efforts” to put solar power technology in the hands of the poor, through his social enterprise SELCO India.
In 2016 the SELCO foundation signed a MoU with the Centre for North East Studies & Policy Research (C-NES) which runs the Boat Clinic program with the main objective of building sustainable energy ecosystem for primary health care services and to improve quality of health care services provided by the Boat Clinics of Assam.
On 28th April 2017, Harish Hunde, along with Huda Jaffer, Lead Designer, Thomas Pullankar, Renewable Energy Consultant from SELCO and officials from their partner organization IKEA Foundation, Netherlands and The Lemelson Foundation, Oregon visited the Jorhat Boat Clinic at Nimatighat and was delighted to see their first solar installation on a Boat Clinic. Dr Sashi Phukan, DIO, Jorhat, Neeladri Bora, Project Officer – Operations UNDP of Jorhat Region, Ashok Rao, Program Manager, C-NES and Fazle Illahi, COO, Envo Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd and technical partner of SELCO Foundation who had installed and commissioned the system was also present.
Dr.Biswajit Sharma, Medical Officer of the Jorhat Boat Clinic says “we sail out on trips of 3 to 5 days at a stretch conducting health camps on different island villages and stay on the boat. We depend on the generator which has both sound and air pollution. The solar system will now not only provide clean energy but will also help in laboratory investigation and provide us better diagnosis for the patients giving us more confidence.”
It needs mention too that thanks to another philanthropist, remote villages in the Brahmaputra river islands in Assam has been lit up with solar street lights. The donor, 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 in the Quartz India online magazine. 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.