The village that has lived in darkness for almost four decades is now gleaming with solar energy. And it all happened with the efforts of the local community
Can you imagine a Panchayat asking the Chief Minister not for a playground but a stadium for their village kids to play? Unbelievable but true. Dharnai is the village that has earned its reputation, after a victorious fight against the darkness in their village.
The entire village is powered by solar energy and this model is the first of its kind in the country. Thanks to this enlightening work in the village that brought amusement to the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his visit to the Dharnai Panchayat of Jahanabad District. The regional head of the area asked the Chief Minister to allot land and other resources for various services in the village.
The most important of his demands were the construction of a stadium and converting the nearby halt into a railway station. The Chief Minister however, is on his Nishchay Yatra across Bihar. That is also how he stumbled on Dharnai. It is said that since the Dharnai is an excellent model of ideal panchayat, the Chief Minister is considering the demands. So if you hear of an international game taking place in the Dharnai sports stadium in the coming few years, don’t be shocked.
Dharnai is the first village in Bihar to have adopted solar technology on such a large scale. Today this village has its own power grid. The solar panels are everywhere in the village with white light bulbs on it. Around 100 Kw power is produced in the village. 70 Kilowatt electricity is reserved for household purposes while the other 30 for irrigation. This is the first village to produce electricity on this level and is the country’s first village with 24 hours electricity access through solar energy.
Four micro grid power stations have been installed in the four divided clusters of the village named Bishunpur, Dharnai, Dharmati and Ditkoria. For the past few months electricity is being produced, distributed and utilised within the village. It is a successful model. Soon it will be handed over to the cluster village committee.
The grid hasn’t been handed over to the committee, yet it is the one presently looking after it. This is a pilot project for Bihar. This plant was established by the international environmentalist organisation Greenpeace. This plant costs up to Rs 1.75 crore. The project is now expected to be proposed for implementation in other villages of the state as well.
Dharnai falls in the Makhdumpur block of the Jahanabad district. It is situated on the Patna-Gaya main road along the National Highway 83. There is a railway halt on the other side of the road. Barabar Hills, the rock-cut caves from Mauryan period are situated nearby and are world famous. Despite that, the village doesn’t have electricity for the last 35 years. Electricity did come to the village four decades ago, but the system failed within years. The electricity poles still stand tall in the village but there are neither electricity cables running over it not transformers. The village elders remember the time when electricity came to the village but the youngsters have only heard about such stories of electricity.
There were many women and girls in the village who had never seen an illuminated electric bulb or a rotating fan. Although there are some privileged families in the village who have installed solar panels in their houses for optional power supply but it took time for this to become a reality for the rest of the village. Most of the families in the village spent their nights in darkness for decades.
The village is now entirely illuminated through solar energy. It is divided into four clusters. Around 40 solar light pillars are installed in every street of all four clusters in the village. It illuminates the village with the white light of florescent tubes. There are a total of 450 households in the village. Currently 300 households have been connected to the grid. The proposal is to provide electricity to all of these houses. People are using electric bulbs, fans and are also charging their mobile phones. Earlier they had to go to other villages or market to charge their phones. Summers were a nightmare for the villagers as the temperature soared to more than 45 degree celsius.
There are also 75 OBC household in the village. 44 of them have been provided with a connection. There are more than 200 farmers who use diesel for farming purposes. There is a proposed plan to install 10 solar pumps of 3 horse power each. So far three of them have been successfully installed. People are using those pumps for irrigation and every day activities.
There are many specialties of this project. All the solar panels are placed on the rooftops of the village houses hence utlising village lands properly. Another is that the village has a plant with capacity up to 100 kw.
Interestingly, the village doesn’t have a building for the solar project instead rooms of Farmer Training Centre, community halls and PACS(Primary Agriculture Credit Societies) bhavan has been used for the purpose. The project is completely dependent on the community contribution and they themselves have to work for it. 30 percent of the total energy production is reserved for farming purposes. There is a separate grid for this purpose only.
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