Let there be light
Thanks to a project of Premier Solar Systems, headed by Surendra Pal Singh and his son Chiranjeev Singh Saluja, 57 villages near Visakhapatnam have finally got electricity.
Recently, the group was in the news for winning the International Solar Project, 2013 Award, given by the Renewable Energy World organisation, for its work in helping these villages, many residents of which had not even seen a light bulb, get electricity.
Surendra says, “Most of us take electricity for granted, but when you visit these villages, then you realise what you have got.”
Though the project was a government initiative that the company won a tender for, Surendra Pal Singh adds that the “the entire experience was gratifying”.
“According to the project, each village or hamlet was provided with a 2 kilowatt or 18 kilowatt solar array,” says Surendra.
“The stand-alone systems come with batteries. The batteries are charged for the entire day and when evening sets in people can use lights for five hours,” he says, adding, “We were asked to work on a support system, wherein people would get electricity for five hours, from six in the evening to 11.”
The project has alternately provided these villages with street lights, depending on the size of the village.
“This project will always remain special,” he says. But there were problems too. “The connectivity to these villages was anything but easy. We had to pass forests, cross rivers, ponds, marshes and then climb mountains. People had to carry the material on their heads or on huge poles and get across.”
There was another problem, “Most of the paths to the villages were through Naxal-affected areas. But no harm was done,” he says.
Surendra adds, “It feels surreal. To know that we have played a part in helping someone is a feeling beyond words.” He says that the group is also working on electrification of 39 villages near Khammam and Adilabad, apart from working on an island near Uganda.
“People need to realise the importance of solar energy. I see homes even in cities tapping solar energy in the next five years,” adds Surendra.