85-yr-old energises life with solar power

If 85-year-old Shantha Madikar Bhim Rao can do it, you can do it. She has electrified her house in Aruvetti village, 50 km west of Hubli, in Karnataka, completely with solar lights. This freedom fighter was provided a house in this 'powerless' village two years back by the Karnataka government. But with the help of Solar Electric Light Company (Selco), a successful private solar energy product firm, she took loans amounting to `9,000 to put up solar panels in her house a year ago.

Like Ms. Bhim Rao, almost all the 50-odd houses in her village are electrified completely with solar power. This model village sets an example for utilisation of solar energy in the present era. The villagers here have no access to proper roads, hospital and other services. But all of them have got solar panels to light their houses.

Speaking about solar lights, Ms Bhim Rao says “thumba santhosa ayithu” (I am very happy). “After I have got my solar lights, it's easy to handle my household chores. I take care of myself and my cooking in my dark, thatched roof house,” she says.

She lives with her 13th child — daughter Nirmala and son-in-law Boopal. “My great-grandchildren are able to study using the solar lamps. Unlike a year back, I am able to perform my poojas with good solar light,” she adds. In the case of 35-year-old Lakshmi Gangadhar, a daily wage farmhand, she enjoys watching her favourite serial 'Kalyani' in the evenings after she got `8,800 as loans through Selco and electrified her house with solar panels.

“When I was given a house in Aruvetti, I was disturbed. I couldn't know what was happening in the outside world. Now with TV, powered by solar power, I watch news and serials.

And I don't need to pay a rupee for electricity,” she said. Anand Narayan, head of Selco labs, said solar energy has transformed the lives of the people of Aruvetti village. “For the last 15 years, our firm has been providing solar products to non-electrified villages. We assist villagers take loans. Their electricity bills come down and they are also empowered,” he said.

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