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Special Feature Series of Directorate of Public Relations

No More Energy Poverty - The Bacha Way


भोपाल : शनिवार, फरवरी 20, 2021, 11:58 IST

'We have got rid of energy poverty. The days of painful suffering from energy-deficiency are over. We have already become India's first solar-energy rich village, says Anil Uike a tribal youth who is a solar energy ambassador of Bacha village in tribal Betul district.

Bacha is a small village of Khadara Gram Panchayat in Ghodadongri tehsil of Betul district. Bacha has gained an iconic status across the country as Solar Energy Rich Village. It is predominantly a tribal village with 450 plus population mostly of Gond families.

'All of 75 households are using solar energy operated equipments. We are determined to make Bacha totally self-reliant in energy requirement switching over to solar energy, says Sharad Sirsam Pancha of Khadara Gram Panchayat. Just three years back IIT Bombay and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation came to help tribal families of Bacha gain self-sufficiency in energy needs. The social acceptance of solar energy technology has changed the scenario.

Freedom from Smoke

All 75 households are now solar-powered. They have energy storage system and solar energy operated kitchen. Using induction stove has made female members technology-friendly. 'For years our families had been using earthen chulhas. Opening fire, eye-burning, inhailing thick smoke and constant coughing were horrifying things. informs Shanti Bai Uike Panch of Khadara Gram Panchayat. Now we are accustomed to using induction stove. We can easily cook anything on it. Even though we have cooking gas, its use is becoming occasional,'- she adds.

'The traditional chulha was really a menace. I am now comfortable with the induction stove. It is operative any time'- says Smt Radha Kumre.

Biotic Pressure on Forest Reduced

'The impact of harnessing solar-energy can be clearly measured from decreasing biotic pressure on adjacent forest,' says Heeralal Uike who heads - Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Committee). Elaborating the primary tasks of Van Suraksha Samiti, he informs that all 12 members of the Committee guard the forest wealth and are watchful so that none harms the jungle. We have to be alert about illegal tree-felling and poaching activities. Earlier, female members used to visit the forest regularly for collecting fuel wood and naturally fallen twigs. It was a common practice. Now it has stopped and we are greatly relieved.'

'I am the oldest native of this village. I have closely seen how things have changed,' says Shekhlal Kavde who is in his 80s. His family depends on three acre agriculture land for livelihoods. He recalls 'how Bacha had no road. It was without electricity. No cleanliness at all. Today, Bacha is totally changed. I am happy to have enjoyed joyous moments in my lifetime.'

Sharing the collective feeling of Bacha people, Anil Uike says that 'everyone is happy because of reduced electricity bills. The simple reason is that electricity consumption has drastically reduced. Solar power operated LED bulbs are enough to meet energy requirements.' 

A Source of Inspiration

'Bacha has inspired surrounding villages, says Rajendra Kavde Sarpancha of Khadara Gram Panchayat. He says that adjoining Khadara and Kevlajhir villages have also evinced interest. Kevlajhir is just 1.5 km. from Bacha while Khadara is 2 km.

'I feel honoured as Bacha has made me known not only in the district but nationally. People greet me warmly wherever I go. Similar is the feeling of Arun Kavde a BSc final year student of Shahpur Government College, which is 15 Km from Bacha. His father owns four acre agriculture land. 'We are gradually switching over to solar power as the grid-supplied electricity is becoming costlier he says. The second big reason is that it is environment-friendly, he adds.

'I feel proud when my friends request me to visit my house and see how my mother is using solar-powered kitchen with induction stove. Almost all of them have visited my place, he says.

A local person Devasu takes care of solar panels, induction stoves, bulb connections, storage battery and other technical aspects. He keeps asking family members if there is any problem. He immediately repairs minor faults.

Change in Social Behaviour

'All this began in 2017 when IIT Bombay picked-up Bacha for this project, informs Rumi Dallu Singh Dhurve - member of Janpad Panchayat Ghodadongri. He informs that the IIT Bombay helped installation of solar panels while Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) provided induction stoves.

Asked about the change in Bacha's social behaviour, he informs that the positive changes are clearly visible. For example, villagers have become techno-friendly. They are exhibiting scientific temperament in dealing with social problems. They are more adaptive to newer technologies. The youngsters are even more enthusiastic and ask about how solar energy can make life more comfortable. I personally feel that Bacha model is extremely feasible and easily replicable.

Dhurve appreciates Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan's vision of transforming Madhya Pradesh into a Self-Reliant State in every respect. He believes that the vision can be realized through such initiatives. If Bacha can achieve self-sufficiency in energy, there is no reason others can't do.

Awanish Somkuwar
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