Many villages in the Dungarpur district of Rajasthan had never seen light after sundown. Without any stable connection to the state electrical grid, they mostly resorted to Kerosene lamps. But today, the situation has changed drastically. The Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL) project – a brainchild of IIT Bombay – which was started in 2015 by distributing solar study lamps in rural areas changed it all.
An official collaboration between IIT Bombay and the Rajasthan State Rural Livelihood Mission, or popularly known as Rajeevika, not only distributed solar lamps but also provided full-fledged livelihood opportunities to around 200 tribal women. This project not only helped students of local government schools but also provided a strong economic support to the women who with the change in their financial condition no longer hesitated to educate their children, a responsibility they resisted in the past.
What started out as sale and assembly of solar lamps, for which they had been trained, has now turned them into solar entrepreneurs. These women are soon to become the owner of a small-scale solar power plant and solar repairing centre. This will be Dungarpur’s first locally-owned Solar Module Manufacturing Plant. The work of the tribal women showered in a profit of around Rs. 32 Lakh by marketing 40,000 solar lamps in just six months.
Pumped up by its success, the group of women are now on their way to a complete plant for manufacturing. The expenditure of R. 1 crore on the power plant was partially collected by the local women, and the rest was provided by the Idea Cellular Company. The ambitious project further aims at providing employment to 30,000 other women.
The project has indeed illuminated the lives of thousands in every sense of the word. It is not long, that if we persist and keep doing similar campaigns across India and the world over, we would soon create a balanced and equitable society with similar, positive results.
Manya Gumashta | TOC
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