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Street vendors in India can soon tap into solar energy

According to reports, the National Association of Street Vendors of India estimates that there are around 30,000 street vendors in Bengaluru. Small businesses like these face innumerable challenges, given their make-shift existence. Availability of light in the evening is one of them.

It is this challenge that non-profit Selco Foundation is hoping to address. The foundation has been finding sustainable solutions for marginalised communities. It called for entries to build sustainable, cost-effective energy kiosks that can be used by street vendors and marginalised immigrant communities for their daily energy needs through the competition Design + Build 2017 in May.

Two entries, one by a team comprising Sampath Reddy, a urban systems designer, architect Aditya Venkat and solar expert Akshay Harikumar, and another by Nilesh Roy, a final-year student at the department of architecture, National Institute of Technology, Trichy, were chosen for the project which starts next month. The pilot, to be built at a cost of Rs. 6 lakh, is to be set up at the Clarence School bus stop in Richards Town. Using solar power, it would be able to charge 60 lights, which would be rented out at Rs. 10 per light to vendors and community members on the street.

Says Reddy, “We’ve followed a frugal innovative design approach. The structure that will cost `50,000 to build is designed to be on wheels with an anchoring system. It can be parked or towed away as per need, and has minimal need of water, civil and welding work in the building process.”

Roy, whose structure Zen Vendor can be built at a cost of Rs. 1,50,000, says his design is an exploration into a new user experience. “While keeping the comfort of the user in mind, the structure also focusses on the aesthetic impact of the kiosk on a neighbourhood,” he adds.

Rachita Misra, senior program manager, Selco Foundation, said the cost of power from these kiosks would be cheaper than kerosene lamps. In the long term, these kiosks could help in rural areas, for migrant or low-income communities and in disaster and relief situations.

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