Solar Light for Closed tea gardens

For the thousands of residents living in darkness in the 13 closed tea gardens of Jalpaiguri, their light appears to be at the end of the tunnel.

With electricity supplies cut off in their quarters for years by the state electricity board for non-payment of dues, candles and lanterns provide the only illumination.

But a scheme by the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency may put an end to this.

Acting on a proposal from the state backward classes’ welfare department, the agency officials have mooted a plan to install at least two solar lights in each labour quarters of the estates where BPL members reside.

“We have worked on the proposal and decided to extend solar energy lighting to the garden quarters,” S.P. Ganachoudhury, the director of the agency, told The Telegraph over phone from Calcutta today.

“Necessary gadgets to store solar energy and convert it to electrical energy will be fitted in the quarters, enabling residents to have two lights in each house.”

The cost for fixing these solar lights has been estimated at Rs 8,000 for each household. This will be borne equally by the department and the agency, the director said.

As a precursor to implement the proposal, the agency has already done a survey. “A list, comprising names of the 13,000-odd families in these tea estates, has been made,” he said.

“We had engaged a Siliguri-based NGO for the work. It has submitted a report to us. Decision has been taken to install lights in 5,000 quarters in the first phase and then go for the rest. The work is expected to start post-monsoon.”

While this lighting facility will be provided free to workers of the closed gardens, the agency has decided to launch gas-run generators, yielding around 100 kw power each in two market places located in the brew belt.

“We have thought of using tea shrubs and other vegetation as raw material,” the agency officials said. “These materials will be passed through a gasifier to make a combustible gas consisting of hydrogen and methane. This gas, in turn, will be used to run the generator to produce electricity attached to a local grid in market areas. We have received proposals for eight sites . Of these, two will be selected.”

But the electricity will be charged from the subscribers. “This is a revenue-generating scheme. People taking connections will have to pay ,” they said.

Source: The Telegraph