Dharnai Solar Village : An Inspirational Story of an extraordinary village

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    A problem is what brings a change, What has to change when everything is already alright.

    This example goes well for Dharnai, a small village in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, with no electricity, has now become India’s first solar powered village.

    Dharnai did not have power for more than 30 years. In July 2014, Dharnai declared itself energy-independent with the launch of Greenpeace’s solar-powered microgrid. This 100-kilowatt micro-grid currently provides 24×7 electricity to more than 2,400 residents. At least 60 street lights, energy requirements of two schools, one health centre, one Farmer Training Centre and 50 commercial establishments are running on this electricity. Besides this, 10 solar irrigation pumps also run on the micro-grid.

    BASIX, a livelihood promotion institution in along with CEED, which is a network of NGOs think-tank organisations in Bihar to support renewable energy development in the state, work in association with the microgrid.

    In 1981, when the Maoist violence reached heights, Dharnai got electricity for the last time. The power supply to the village got snapped as the transformer installed in the village was burnt.Not only this but the cables were also stolen away. Since then it’s nothing but perennial darkness in this village.

    For over 30 years, high-tension electric wires passed by the village without lighting up a single home inside it. With the efforts of Greenpeace India, Dharnai became India’s first fully solar-powered village. Now those little children won’t have their futures engraved in this darkness.

    This light will light up the future of children of this village, people won’t have to go to cities to get treated for illness and many more will be the beneficiary of this solar energy.Where there is darkness there is always a way for light, The only need is to recognise the source and put all efforts towards it and this is what Dharnai has achieved.This is the true feeling of “Swades”.

    According to the briefing paper of CEED India’s Press Release

    Extensive field research and assessment based on various feasibility criteria resulted in selecting Dharnai village panchayat in the Makhdumpur block, Jehanabad district, Bihar. Just 80 kms from Patna (on the Patna-Gaya highway) it also has a railway station, Barabar Halt.

    There are around 450 households in the village with a population of around 2,200 people. Thirty years ago, due to various reasons, the village lost its electricity infrastructure. Since then, the villagers have suffered due to lack of electricity and have been waiting for it to be restored.

    The total land holding is 1,500 bigha and around 1,200 bigha is used for agriculture. Agriculture is the predominant economic activity and there has been a substantial energy demand for irrigation. Our survey shows that about 4,03,125 cubic meters of water is required annually for irrigation.

    Cumulatively, the expense for irrigation is about Rs. 12,54,000 annually. With increasing diesel prices, these expenses will continue to rise further. The village settlement area, comprising houses, shops and other buildings, is around 100 bigha.

    Various shops dot the village along with local eat-outs, bank, etc., constituting the commercial demand for energy. Households spread across the village in 4 clusters need lighting, fans, mobile charging; and in some cases, television. All these make Dharnai an ideal case for CEED’s demo project.

    You can also see the briefing paper by CEED India for this initiative here 

    By Aarushi Aggarwal

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