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More glow for solar villages

The sun will continue to lend its brightness to villages of Dhanbad to help them glow in the dark.

For, Tata Steel’s Jharia division, that had set an example in 2013 before the nation’s policy-makers — who were desperately looking for an alternative source of energy to generate power — by illuminating its 39 leasehold villages with solar street lamps, is planning to install more such lights in the coal district.

The steel major has started a fresh survey to identify places, which missed out in last year’s drive, to install similar lamps there.

Between April and June 2013, as many as 345 solar lights had been installed at public places like clubs, nukkads, schools, village resource centres and temples in all the leasehold villages of Jharia division under the company’s corporate social responsibility programme.

General manager of Tata Steel’s Jharia division Sanjay Kumar Singh on Tuesday said that the 345 solar lights were purchased from Tata Power Solar Limited at a cost of Rs 84 lakh and carried a three-years manufacturer’s warranty.

“The performance of all the lights were satisfactory. Problems were reported with 18 lamps. But that was because their batteries were stolen,” Singh said and added that the batteries were now kept in adjoining houses to prevent theft.

According to Singh, the existing system’s success had spurred the fresh solar illumination drive. “Besides being environment-friendly, these lights are also cost effective,” he added.

Keshav Ranjan, the Jharia unit-in-charge of Tata Steel Rural Development Society, under which the company’s corporate social responsibility programmes are undertaken, explained how the lamp worked.

The solar panels converted sunlight received during daytime into electricity and stored it in batteries. “After sunset, the solar panel detects drop in ambient light and the system automatically turns on,” Ranjan said.

He added that some of the remotest villages in Dhanbad like Dumri, Tetangabad and Chaitudih had greatly benefited with the solar lamps.

Santosh Mahato, a villagers from Jorapokhar, echoed Ranjan. “Power cuts at night do not plunge our villages into darkness as public places remain illuminated,” he said.