According to reports, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard)’s dream of making Lohardaga village kerosene-free has come true in Ulti village. Women from seven self-help groups (SHGs) managed to design 100 solar lamps to cater to every house in the village.
It was for the help of the women residing in the village, the bank, under its Rural Innovation Fund plan, took the initiative, three years back. Then Utli village had no access to electricity. However, the area was recently electrified under Rajeev Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme. The plan was executed successfully by a local NGO – Lohardaga Gram Swarajya Sansthan (LGSS) who formed seven SHGs of 70 women and imparted training to them. Of them, 20 women were given technical training under a management committee.
This committee’s members who represent all the seven SHGs are able to repair the solar lamps if needed. Coordinator of the programme Keshav Pathak of LGSS said first 70 women were given capacity building training by a team of experts from Bangalore. Then, as many as 20 women were selected to form a management committee. They were given technical training and were also taken to Cuttack in Odisha on exposure visit. “All 20 women are well trained and they have been able to prove their abilities by assembling the solar lamps. The lamps were distributed free to each house in the village, he said.
The district development manager of Nabard, Samrat Mukherjee said the initiative has borne fruit. “The management committee has made four charging stations in the village. Villagers use the lights at night and send them to the stations for charging. Charging plates have also been provided with lamps. Villagers have to pay 50 paise per day as charging-cum-maintenance cost,” said Mukherjee.
Puniya Oraon, an SHG member displaying the solar lights in a stall in a development fair on district establishment day said, “The lamps still have its significance since power supply is irregular and uncertain. Mostly power comes late at night when we do not need electricity,” she said. “Spare parts of a solar lamp cost Rs 1200. After free distribution, few women have started assembling lamps for sale and till date, 50 lamps were sold for Rs 1600 each, said CP Yadav, the secretary of LGSS.
Lohardaga deputy commissioner Ratan Kumar, who praised the initiative, has requested women to come forward for large-scale manufacturing of lamps and earn extra money. He has assured every possible support in this regard.