According to reports, for Minda NextGenTech, it all started in a tiny village called Mangladhuli, some 100 km from Agra. The company put up a small 1.2-kW solar power plant and laid 1.5 km of cables to transmit electricity to the 200-odd houses in the village.
The 4-5 units the system generated was enough to provide 8 hours of electricity, two hours in the morning and six in the evenings. Initially, all the villagers got was two LED lamps for 1.5 W each. The social transformation was a joy to behold.
A little business has begun to develop with the help of an NGO which arranged for pulses and spices to be ground by the villagers. This would not have been possible without electric grinders. They get Rs 5 a kg of material ground and ten kilograms a day is not inconceivable. Each household pays Minda Rs 150 a month — which is no revenue at all. But the company’s business model is not to sell power and earn money. The company is in the business of selling the system.
The power plants and the gridlines will be owned by entrepreneurs, for which there is a huge demand. Minda’s Chairman, Mr Praveen Bhasin, says that ten more villages would be powered by the end of this month, all owned by entrepreneurs. Mangladhuli was a pilot, as was a 240-W plant at the nearby Raybha village. Next year, the plan is to do 100 villages and the year after, 1,500. The future plants will be of different sizes, ranging from 240 W to 100 kW. Mr Bhasin says the business model is such that it is profitable, independent of any subsidy from the government.