WWF-India is working on a project called 'Sahasra Jyoti' or 'Beacon for the Sundarbans' to bring sustainable development to the Sundarbans landscape by lighting up 1,000 households in Satjelia Island. This is a part of the ‘India Unplugged – the WWF-India Earth Hour 2015’ campaign.
Satjelia is an island on the fringe of the estuarine delta, sharing 22 km of its boundary with the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, and has an approximate population of 40,000 people. Sahasra Jyoti will encompass 12% of the population, living in 12-15 hamlets in the island.
The project involves installing micro-grid solar power plants in each of the designated hamlets. Each solar station will be able to generate 9.63 kWp (kilowatt peak, the unit for measuring power generated in solar power station) electricity and will provide 72 kWh (kilowatt hour) electricity to each household in a year. The cost works out to around Rs 26,000 per household. The land for the plants would either be donated by the village or by the forest department. As a part of this project, beneficiaries will receive an internal wiring system with three LED lamps, one fan, one mobile charger, one battery and provision to power a 30-watt DC television set through an internal wiring system.
Funds for the project will be raised by partners. Online shopping site eBay has already pledged its support to the project. Customers logging on to eBay will also have an opportunity to purchase renewable energy products; the money so earned would be put into the project. The e-commerce platform will also be retailing a range of special Earth Hour t-shirts and mugs (since the project is part of WWF’s Earth Hour campaign). Additionally, eBay customers can choose to make monetary donations between Rs 10 and Rs 26,000 as an add-on to their regular purchase, proceeds of which will be directed to WWF-India for the Sahasra Jyoti initiative.
Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor campaigned for the project (Brands Display)
WWF-India hopes to raise Rs 2.6 crore in six to eight months, following which work on the project will begin. While the first household is likely to be lit up in a year, it will take around two years to power all the 1,000 homes. Once the project is established and operating, the local communities will be trained in the upkeep and maintenance of the plants.
Satjelia shares around 22 km of its boundary with the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and has an approximate population of 40,000 people. Nearly 10-15% of its population will be benefited through the Sahasra Jyoti initiative.
WWF’s relation to renewable solar energy projects in the Sundarbans is not limited to Sahasra Jyoti. Earlier, there was the ‘Light 4 Stripes’ project, also part of the WWF-India Earth Hour 2015 campaign, which was aimed at reducing human-tiger conflict in the Sundarbans. As a part of the project, Rs 16 lakh was raised to install solar lights along the embankment in villages abutting forested islands to deter tigers from straying into human settlements.
Dr Anurag Danda, an expert on the Sundarbans, talks about what the
solar lights of the Light 4 Stripes project would mean to the remote
villages in the mangrove delta
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