Community based environment initiative by RGMVP

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Thousand of homes across the Programme area still use non-renewable sources such as kerosene, coal or wood for lighting purposes. The harmful impacts of this on health are many -- breathing problems due to smoke and eye sight weakness due to dim light - and so are the inconveniences and dangers such as the ease with which a fire can spread in the house, non-portability of the light, and non-availability of kerosene in the market. Apart from this, these conventional sources pollute the environment with harmful gases such as carbon-ane, sulphur-di-oxide and nitrogen oxide, causing permanent damage to the ozone layer.
RGMVP has started its Community-based Environment Initiative to address these issues through collective action in partnership with THRIVE Energy Technologies Pvt Ltd, a specialised company working in the area of energy solutions using solid state lighting. The initiative is based on the concept of creating a community solar kiosk on which solar panels are fitted and which can be used for recharging the solar LED lights provided to the community. The VOs are the driving force behind this initiative: they provide a shade-free area in the village for the kiosk; appoint a community person who will be trained by THRIVE in maintenance and repair work; list out the community members interested in obtaining solar LED lights; place an order with THRIVE; and distribute the lights to the community members. For a nominal fee of Rs 2,500 (payable in Rs 100 instalments), a household can get three lights: a study light, a portable light for the household, and a portable light for livelihood activities. The former two last for eight to 10 hours after recharging while the third can be used for over 12 hours. The household gets three years' free service for the lights within the fee.

The model addresses the issue of maintenance through a comprehensive training programme that will be run by THRIVE for VO appointed volunteers called Urja Sakhis. The Urja Sakhi will take charge of the village kiosk and manage the maintenance and repair work, and attend to the recharging needs of the community members. After three years of hand-holding support provided by THRIVE, the initiative is projected to become sustainable and completely community-driven.

Village Kalyanpur is already using solar lighting and the training of Urja Sakhis is underway for more villages.

In the long term, the initiative will not only create awareness about environmental protection among the community, safeguard the health of the community but also propagate the use of renewable sources of energy.

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