According to reports, “It is difficult to express our joy. People who have the luxury of electricity may not know the value of it,” exclaimed S Alagupriya, a middle-aged woman from Sitraruvipatti, after all the 16 houses in the village were provided with solar power on Monday. Besides, Sitraruvipatti was declared as model solar village at a function held here.
Till last year, the villagers residing downhill of Alagarkoil lived in darkness as the decade-long efforts of the 16 families to bring power lines failed. Sitraruvipatti is 6 km away from a proper road and 4 km from the last electrified village. However, the villagers started utilising solar power from last year.
In fact, Sitraruvipatti’s tryst with solar power began five years back when a resident, Ayyavu, bought a solar panel. Though, other villagers wanted to harness the solar power like Ayyavu, they found it expensive. But they were lucky as NABARD, which was working in the village on a watershed programme, roped in Bangalore-based solar power company SELCO, which in turn mobilised the local banks to fund the solar equipment. Initially, eight houses were installed with solar panel by last April and the other eight houses applied for bank loans to procure solar equipment. Quite satisfied with the loan repayment of the eight houses which were granted loans, Indian Overseas Bank readily sanctioned the loans to the latest applicants, thus entire village households could manage to buy solar equipment.
The officials and bankers who were present for the event on Monday termed the achievement as a result of the collective effort of all stakeholders. R Shankar Narayanan, NABARD assistant general manager, said the villagers played a crucial role in the project along with the bank, SELCO, and the NGOs operating in the village. G K Arun Sundar Thayalan, additional collector and project director of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), assured to carry out road work to the remote village.
Harish Hande, managing director of SELCO and Magsaysay award-winner, stated that their next mission will be to work out solar solutions for irrigation in the village. The villagers have asked for a solar-powered irrigation pump for their lands as well as for drinking water needs. “We will be working in the village for at least ten years more. Our next focus will be on solar-powered irrigation pumps,” he said. “The objective is to involve the communities for their betterment,” he said.
The families in the remote village were craving for power since they were scared of bisons and poisonous reptiles. Morever, school students couldn’t study at home.