This Solar Module Manufacturing Plant in Rajasthan will be Fully Owned and Operated by Local Tribals; Read More
In a first-of-its-kind effort, a solar module manufacturing plant fully owned and operated by local tribal communities is being set up in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. The foundation stone laying ceremony was held a few days back.
Keeping in mind the importance of renewable energy in India, IIT Bombay had earlier started the Department of Energy Science and Engineering and established the National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education. In order to identify and tackle the challenges in implementation and dissemination of renewable energy technology in society, IIT Bombay has lead projects which provide solar lamps to school students across India. The Institute has already distributed 1 million solar lamps and has been given the responsibility to plan and execute distribution of 7 million more such lamps. IIT Bombay believes that the sustainability of solar solutions can come only when local communities are involved in various operations of solar technology implementation and distribution. To take this forward, IIT Bombay has begun promoting local manufacturing of solar products in rural areas. The Institute has helped implement this first-of-its-kind solar PV module manufacturing plant, which will be completely owned and operated by tribal women in Dungarpur, Rajasthan.
“IIT Bombay is taking significant steps to contribute positively in energy scenario of the country not only through academics but also by undertaking scientific and social projects,” said Prof. Devang Khakhar, Director, IIT Bombay.
“It is a proud moment for IIT Bombay. This first-of-its-kind manufacturing plant will be a game changer in off-grid solar power scenario of India. This project will boost the confidence of people in solar PV technology by not only creating jobs for local people but also enabling long-term sustenance of solar products,” shared Prof Chetan Singh Solanki, principal investigator of the Million SoUL Project at IIT Bombay.
IIT Bombay will provide hand-holding support to the community till they become fully capable of technical and business operations. A corpus amount exceeding 24 lakhs was collected for set-up of the manufacturing plant by the tribal women. Additional funds were provided by Idea Cellular. The plant is expected to be operational within 4 to 5 months and will focus mainly on off-grid solar market.
The district administration under Surendra Solanki, Collector and DM Dungarpur went out of the way to support the project by providing land, all regulatory support and even promised help in raising funds.
The foundation ceremony was attended by Chief Guest Sushil Katara, Honourable State Minister for Public Health Engineering, Ground Water and Chairperson Harshvardhan Singh, Hon. Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).
The foundation stone is a historic moment not only for Dungarpur but also for India. Livelihood generation in remote areas will move from farming and animal husbandry to industrialisation and localisation. It is hoped that this will set in motion a trend of decentralised manufacturing in India to reverse the course of rural poverty and urban migration. The effect of this project on the morale of the local community and on national policies is expected to be tremendous.
“It is a great initiative for women empowerment. I hope that the women will take it forward. Rajasthan government will always be there to support them,” said Rajeev Singh Thakur, State Mission Director Rajeevika and Secretary Rural Development. Rajeevika has played the important role of catalysing the formation of Cluster Level Federation and built the capacity of the community to start taking such initiatives.
The district administration of Dungarpur, Rajasthan invited IIT Bombay to start its programme of solar study lamp distribution (Project Million SoUL) in remote areas of the district by forming partnership with cluster level federations (CLFs) of Rajeevika (Rajasthan Grameen Ajeevika Vikas Parishad). IIT Bombay had already distributed a million solar study lamp by that time in various other parts of India.
Women self-help groups (SHG) from CLFs were trained and mentored to locally assemble and sell the lamps. The most important part of the project was that local women were trained to provide repair and maintenance to the lamps by setting up solar shops so that regular maintenance was available for these lamps. This was a unique initiative that empowered local women, from tribal and one of the most backward blocks of Rajasthan, to earn their livelihoods by becoming solar entrepreneurs and a roaring success for Rajeevika entrusted with the task of generating livelihoods.
During this project, it was envisioned that part of the income earned by the CLF will be used to set up a module manufacturing unit in Dungarpur and take the lamp assembly process to the next level of local manufacturing. SHG members who had toiled to raise the corpus amount are elevated about the prospects when they would be owning their own company and be their boss. For these women from backward areas, it has been very difficult to bridge the gap from being unemployed semi-literates to become first class solar entrepreneurs.