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Improving Health Conditions
Dakshin Dimoria is a revenue village under the Dimoria development block in Kamrup District, Assam. In spite of having an officially electrified status, the village suffers from erratic power supply with more that 70% of households that are too poor to pay for grid connections. For lighting purposes, the villagers used kerosene lamps or paraffin candles, which not only provided insufficient lighting, but were also environment unfriendly. They also had adverse impacts on people’s health. Various small-scale and cottage industries such as bamboo craft, weaving, sewing, and small commercial establishments such as village grocery and vegetable shops also suffered due to the lack of proper illumination in the evening.
The LaBL campaign was launched in Dakshin Dimoria in partnership with Kalang Jalachhed Samiti, an NGO involved with watershed development projects in the area. The villagers’ response towards the campaign was overwhelming. Keeping in mind the villagers’ demand for other services in addition to lighting and their adaptability to the system, a Solar Technology Platform (STP) was created in the village. Established in a a small hamlet called Bahtala, the STP consisted of a solar-based charging station for charging 50 lanterns and a 100 Ah (ampere-hour) battery, connected through a Solverter developed by TERI, for powering other appliances such as a computer, mobile phone, and water purifier. The STP was equipped to cater to the community’s need for lighting, information and communication system, and other livelihood-related requirements.
Since Dakshin Dimoria was located on the forest fringe, it was common for wild elephants to enter the village in search of food. Villagers now used solar lanterns to drive away elephants that came from nearby hills. The use of lanterns also enabled children to study for longer hours. They preferred solar lanterns over kerosene or paraffin lamps for better illumination and a smoke-free indoor environment. The entrepreneur looking after the STP, Prasen Deuri, publicizes the charging station very proactively. He has mobilized the entire community to rent more and more lanterns and almost 95% of his lanterns are rented out everyday. Though run by an individual entrepreneur, the entire community actively responds to the needs of the charging station. This community feeling has been a unique feature of this charging station.
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