A newly installed solar microgrid at a home in Dharnai village. Development project to electrify the entire Dharnai by installing solar microgrids bring new hope among the villagers.
ILLUMINE DHARNAI

 

Sparkling eyes of Rama Kumari Devi (80) is merely visible in the dim light of a kerosene lamp while she finally understands that her village ‘Dharnai’ will again have electricity. Just a while before she was reminiscencing of her youthful age when there was electricity in ‘Dharnai’. She recalls that it was almost over 30 years before when villagers used electricity for the last time. Electric bulbs were available for the students during night. She expresses her grief that her grandchildren had to suffer a lot during their study period for not having electricity for over last 30 years. Similar to Rama Kumari Devi, there are many more veterans who have the same experiences.

             Greenpeace along with CEEDS (Centre for Environment and Energy Development) and BASIX have taken an initiative to make Bihar’s ‘Dharnai’ village in ‘Jehanabad’ district electrified by a solar microgrid installation project. ‘Dharnai’ had once been electrified almost over 30 years before, however, the infrastructure for it is no more available and presently diesel generators are the only source of electricity in this village. Lack of electricity has stunted the growth of ‘Dharnai’ to a very large extent though there are lots of potential to flourish. Healthcare is limited and it’s extremely difficult to establish new models of medical services in the absence of constant power supply. Additionally, using any form of electricity is very much limited, and only affordable to the economically affluent class who can bear the rising cost of diesel.

            Bihar is highly lacking having enough fossil fuel resources to generate electricity for its future needs. The centralized system of distributing energy has also failed to deliver electricity in rural areas of Bihar and therefore the solution lies in accelerated development of renewable energy demand and to ensure long term energy security for the state. The social, cultural, economic demographic of the cluster village of ‘Dharnai’ encourage Greenpeace for setting up a solar micro grid to use environment-friendly sources of energy for the benefit of villagers and creating a replicable model for future. Also growing concern on increasing carbon emissions, effects of climate change on agricultural land and the absence of an efficient power distribution network collectively make ‘Dharnai’ as a perfect example for the universal energy access through clean and sustainable solar energy. Development of the solar microgrid by Greenpeace to electrify the entire village brings new hopes of development in the field of agriculture, education, medical services, and business among the villagers. Success of this initiative can unshut a new way of better living to ‘Dharnai’.

An old electricity poles which was supposed to be in use 33 years ago here in Dharnai village. People of Dharnai had facility of electricity supplied by the state Government but this infrastructure is no more available since last 33 years. Nowadays, diesel generators are the only source of electricity here in these villages.
Rama Kumari Devi (80), a senior resident of Dharnai village reminiscence her past time in this village when electricity was there. But this infrastructure is no more available since last 33 years.
Inactive old electricity poles can be seen at many places in Dharnai village.
Rally village is situated just beside the Dharnai village and electricity is available there. Electric supply is only available for a fixed time period in the day time at Rally village.
A local roadside salon in Dharnai village. Usually, salons are remained open only in the day time as there is no electricity since last 33 years in Dharnai.
Inside of a roadside salon at Dharnai village.
Villagers here mainly dependent on the kerosene lit lamps and lanterns here in the night time. To have electricity using diesel generators is a luxury for most of the villagers here.
According to the students here, they have to face lots of difficulties for not having electricity in Dharnai village. Kerosene lit lanterns or lamps are not useful for the long hours of study in the night-time.
Rupnarayan Kumar (18), who studies diploma in mechanical engineering in Bangalore since last 3 year, comes twice a year at his home in Dharnai village. Like him the young generations of the village are very much keen to use new technologies such as smart phone, laptop, iPad etc. But they fail to meet their expectation due to no electric facility here.
The one and only health centre at Dharnai village. It only remains open in the day time as there is no electric facility till now. People suffer a lot if they need any emergency medical service at night.
Workers are busy in a cane sugar processing factory in Dharnai village. They have to invest a lot in diesel for the processing as there is no electric facility in Dharnai.
Nagendra Das, a senior inhabitant of Dharnai village is busy in processing cane sugar at Dharnai village. He is in this job since last 25 years. Absence of electricity in this village is the only reason for not growing his business properly. Moreover, diesel price hike is also decreasing his benefit day by day.
Villagers here in Dharnai mostly dependent on farming as livelihood but have been facing trouble to arrange sufficient water supply for their crops in time due to no electricity here since last 33 years.
Rameshwar Mahato (right) and Ran Vijay Sharma (middle), senior residents of Dharnai village reminiscence that life at night was not so tough then as they have access to electricity in their village 33 years ago.
Ran Vijay Sharma (left) is busy in cutting paddy sticks at his home in Dharnai village. The machine is powered by diesel. According to the villagers they have to spend more money to buy diesel as they have no other alternatives.
Some villagers who can afford batteries are dependable on battery LED light as a source of light at night in Dharnai village.
Batteries are used as the power source for LED lights.
Ram chandar Singh (60), a senior resident of Dharnai village uses a machine to cut the paddy straws manually for his cows to feed as he can’t afford a diesel machine for this purpose.
Though diesel is highly priced and unaffordable to most of the people here in Dharnai, nowadays, villagers have forced to depend on the diesel-powered paddy thresher machine.
Lal Mohan Sharma (75), a senior resident of Dharnai village who passed LLB, remembers that he has the facility of electricity while studying at night. “It is unfortunate that students nowadays deprived of this facity.” – he added.
Sweta Kumari (17) who completed ISC in Dharnai village, is watching television at her house. According to her a major hurdle to her higher study is the absence of electric supply here in their village.
An old television set inside a house in Dharnai village. Some villagers have such television sets bought almost 33 years ago when there was electricity. Diesel generators or batteries are the only source of power in these villages now.
Gayetri Devi, a senior resident of Dharnai village, bought their television 15 years ago with a hope that electricity will be reinstalled at Dharnai soon but later their hope appeared as a day-dream.
Village women carrying gas lanterns on their head to the nearest market to refill gas cylinder is a very common view at Dharnai village.
Villagers are at a meeting regarding installation of solar microgrid in Dharnai village.
Installation of solar microgrid technology have made Dharnai village independent in electricity.
A tough time of 33 years without electricity have come to an end with the installation of solar microgrids at Dharnai village.
Shushila Devi who makes incense sticks says that she is very much optimistic about the launch of solar powered electricity in Dharnai village. According to her she will also be able to make incense sticks at night-time and earn more.
Rajesh, who runs a tailor shop, says that he cannot work at night for not having electric facility here in the Dharnai village till now. But now he is very much hopeful to earn more by also working at night after the launch of solar powered electricity.
A newly installed solar street light in the locality of Dharnai village.
Solar powered street lights are the new source of light after sunset at Dharnai village nowadays.
After installation of solar powered street lights, Dharnai village has started to see a busy night life. Before this, daily life of the villagers used to end with setting sun.
A busy working hour after the sunset in Dharnai village. Launch of solar powered electricity has made a great positive impact on the village life.
After the end of marathon 33 years dark time of no electricity, villagers in Dharnai are very much hopeful that installation of solar powered electricity will give a boost in their daily living.