Lighting the way around through Green Switch Project
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Lighting the way around through Green Switch Project

By auther pic. CSRBOX

April 24, 2019

Lighting the way around through Green Switch Project

The Green Switch Project

The village of Charachapada is just 25 km from Mumbai but life there is very different. For generations, villagers have been living off the grid with no electricity. No electricity meant - no water pumps. Women had to go daily to the river to fill water. Opportunities were few. Most of the Tribals living in the village have small farms and also work as migrant labor in the big city. Their work starts with sunrise and ends when the sun sets.

 

Dattu Valaku Tabale is one such resident farmer of Charachapada eking out an existence. He says, - ‘I am 52 years old and I have been in this village for the past 25 years. In my family, we are 9 members. Life is hard. At night, we stared at the stars, the only source of light in the night sky. The fires we lit kept the darkness away. We were used to our way of life. But we all dreamt of a day when our village would also get light.’

 

Out of 600,000 villages in India, it is estimated that at least 20,000 villages like Charachapada are not connected to the grid. In addition, another hundred thousand plus villages that are connected have a very poor quality power supply. The need was immediate. A solution had to be found that was quick to set up and cost effective.

 

Tata Capital’s ‘Green Switch Project’ in line with sustainable development goals aims to provide access to clean energy for the communities which do not have any grid connection. A community-owned micro solar power plan funded by Tata Capital is installed that connects electricity to house, school and community area. So far, through the Green switch project, a hundred and seventy-four houses with about one hundred and ninety residents have been given electricity. Working through community inclusion has been important.

 

Ravindra Ankush Tabale, the Villager, says – ‘I have been involved with the project for the last one and a half year. I was trained by Gram Urja – the technical partner for the project. They trained villagers like me in taking care of the equipment. With the help of everyone, the solar plan started. The light came to our village.’

 

A community-level committee is set up as a part of the project and receives basic training to maintain the micro-grid and collect monthly tariffs as per the household usage.

 

Everything has changed for better in Charachapada today. With the installation of solar micro-grids, life doesn’t come to a halt at sunset. Villagers now have bought televisions and fans and have started using mobiles and feel connected to the rest of the world.

 

Many like Pramod felt unsafe even walking next door because of the total darkness that enveloped the village after sunset. Pramod says – ‘Earlier, we used to be scared to walk around after dusk. Now with these street lights, walking at night has become safer. Even after dark children can play and I can visit my friends.’

 

The villagers have started dreaming of doing big things. Dreams that were not possible before. Now when the sun sets, students like Mahendra are not forced to put their books back into their bags but can bring them out instead. When there was no light, the villages had to wait for the day and it was hard to plan for the future. These solar grids have given the Tribals of Charachapada quiet confidence for a bright future. Before they were in dark; now no more.

Tata Capital believes in empowering people and transforming lives through the ‘Green Switch Project’ like in Charachapada and 14 more villages. The hope remains to impact many more where the sunlight would never fade away.

 

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