Energy is needed for basic activities
like home-lighting, cooking etc. In India 56% of rural households (and
40% of all households) are unelectrified. While the country has
installed over 135,000 MW of power plants, and generation is growing by
6-7% annually, it doesnt translate to equity in
distribution. We find that even ensuring basic connectivity of all households to
the grid or to alternate sources where grid is not available, is not a
priority in government's policy and implementation, and is the major
reason why people are living in darkness (see map ).
AID's work in
partnership with people and groups in India has focussed on
understanding electrification and other energy needs of the
underpriveleged sections, recognizing their capability to pay for
energy usage provided the energy sources are available to them, and
coming up with innovative solutions.
AIDing VILLAGES CONNECTED TO THE GRID
Srikakulam Rural Development Project:
Ironically, the majority of the unelectrified households in India are in villages that are already connected to the grid (officially it requires only 10% of households to be powered to declare a village electrified ). At an extremely low cost of about $2000 per year, AID has enabled
nearly 1000 households across 25 such villages to get electricity
connections in the past 3-4 years. This model is replicable and can be used all over India.
A survey conducted by AID-India
Srikakulam, indicated that those without electricity were spending Rs
30-40 per month on kerosene (3-4 litres at Rs 11/liter) for oil lamps,
while those with one or two tubelights in the same villages, had
monthly bills of Rs 40 for about 20 units of electricity they consumed [2004-05 prices].
Thus even poor people had the capacity to pay their monthly bills, and what was
keeping their homes dark was their inability to pay the one time Rs 1000-3000 bribe
for securing an initial connection. Having found that it was not
poverty but exploitation that was keeping homes dark, AID-India
volunteers along with 20 village people who did not have electricity,
fought the bribes and secured 20 connections without bribes. Since then
more people have joined the campaign and by 2008, over 700 connections
were facilitated by AID-India in Srikakulam district.
AIDing VILLAGES NOT CONNECTED TO THE GRID
Pedal Power: Motivated
by children literally burning the midnight oil before exams, in remote
areas of Narmada valley where despite the Sardar Sarovar dam there is
no plan to connect the valley villages to the grid, a pedal power
generator was designed by AID volunteers, where children could light up
their classrooms by pedalling.
Bilgaon Micro: AID
supported a microhydro project in the village Bilgaon where the energy
of a local waterfalls was tapped lighting about 200 households. The
project done in collaboration with Bombay Sarvodaya Friendship Centre,
People's School of Energy and shramdaan provided by the Narmada Valley
Biogas, Wind and Solar: AID initiated
collaborations between Mozda Collective in Gujarat, Narmada Support
Group in Dhule, Maharshtra and AID-India, Orissa Chapter with
Engineers Without Borders and students of US universities that strengthened existing ideas in all
partners and led to design and fabrication of a biogas electricity
generation plant, wind turbine and solar LED lights.
In addition AID has supported projects in diverse areas of alternate energy.
ENERGY FOR COOKING
Solar Cookers: Mozda
COMMENT ON LARGE PROJECTS:
projects being done in the name of the poor, do not address the
question of those who are suffering the most -- people living in
darkness who dont have access to electricity -- as there is seldom any
creation of infrastructure for distribution, they are mainly aiming to
produce more electricity while not addressing distribution issues. In
cases such as the Sardar Sarovar dam, AID has not only been concerned
about the environmental and human rights issues as regards
rehabilitation, but has also pointed t