In August and September of 2017, I was regularly visiting different parts of Kanpur Dehat to understand the energy scenario of this district. Jaggupurwa is a one of the villages where a solar microgrid was set up. I often visited this village to pilot and monitor the working of the solar lighting system but there was no grid electricity connection available. During these regular visits, I used to interact with people from the villages to know more about them and their views on solar energy. It was during one of these interactions that one day a girl came forward and said “Bhaiya, these lights are very helpful for our family & every household.”
Her name is Asha and she was studying in grade eight in a nearby government school. She was very fascinated to learn new things and she always had questions to ask. She wanted to be a teacher to help other children from her village. During our frequent conversations she told me how painful life was before these solar lights came along. She said that every evening, once the sun set, darkness consumed the village and every single household. They used kerosene lamp for lighting their house. There was one, at the most two lamps available in their houses as they could not afford more than that. They used lamps for cooking, studying and for lighting their rooms. In her house, there was only one kerosene lamp that used 2.5 liters for 4 hours. Kerosene has been subsidized by the government from Rs. 40 to Rs. 10 in the public distribution shop and that was all that they could afford each month.
Each day, of these four hours, one hour was allocated for studying and remaining for other household chores. She said that even light from kerosene lamp was too dim for reading and studying well. She further added that she was never able to complete her daily homework and had faced harsh remarks from the teacher in front of the whole class. Her father was an auto driver who used to go to work early morning and had many issues of his own. There was also a problem of charging mobile phones as they had to go to other villages which had access to grid electricity in order to do this. This condition used to get worse during bad weather.
“Till recently, there was no grid electricity connection available in Jaggupurwa Village. With the help of solar lighting system, every household now has two solar LED lamps & a mobile charging facility for 8 hr/day.“
But after getting solar LED lamps at her home, things have changed. She shared that with solar lighting, they have got four hours of brightness in evening and one hour early in the morning. Now she is easily able to complete her homework and read other books she likes during that time. The household now has two solar LED lamps and a mobile charging facility for a total of 8 hours per day.