According to reports, about one-third of streetlights in the panchayats in the district are likely to be converted into solar-powered ones over the next four years. Solar-powered streetlights were being installed in the panchayats under a special scheme announced by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa through the rural development department.
During 2011-12, the district was sanctioned 865 solar streetlights with a total allocation of Rs.1.95 crore. An equal sum has been sanctioned for 2012-13 for installing another 865 solar streetlights.
Among the streetlights sanctioned for 2011-12, about 500 have already been installed, according to G.Radha, project director, District Rural Development Agency. Apart from this, solar-powered streetlights are being installed under other development projects such as Tamil Nadu Village Habitations Improvement (THAI) Scheme, which would be implemented in all the 404 panchayats during a five-year period.
Through a convergence of different development programmes, district officials hope to convert about one-third of the streetlights in the panchayats. This could result in a substantial savings in power tariff, a major expenditure for the rural local bodies.
Solar streetlights are installed in the district under three different categories. While standalone lights are installed in remote and isolated villages, new lights in rows of 10 are being installed in villages faced with problems of voltage fluctuations. The third category involves conversion of existing streetlights into solar-powered ones, also in rows of 10 lights. For such row lighting, 500 watt solar power storage units would be established at a common place.
District officials point out that the solar-powered streetlights have come in handy for students to read under them even during power cuts.
The solar-powered lights are also monitored through remote units thereby ensuring their proper operation.