Union Minister R K Singh today inaugurated an assembly and distribution centre for solar study lamps at Mahuli village in Arrah and also laid the foundation (remotely) for a photovoltaic module manufacturing plant in Sherghati block of Gaya district (Bihar).
Local women Self Help Group (SHG) will assemble solar study lamps in the centre and distribute them to underprivileged students who do not have access to electricity.
"Thus the Centre will not only provide kerosene-free affordable illumination to students, but also empower rural women with the skills to assemble, distribute and repair solar lamps," an official statement said.
The initiative is part of the central government's scheme of providing 70 lakh solar study lamps in five states, where rural household electrification levels are low. In Bihar, the target is to provide more than 18.84 lakh underprivileged students with solar study lamps. Around 4.57 lakh such lamps have already been distributed to the students.
The solar photovoltaic module manufacturing plant will be first of its kind in the state, and will be entirely owned and operated by local women Self Help Group Federations. For this purpose, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (BRLPS) - Jeevika, IIT-Bombay, and the Cluster Level Federation of women self-help group members.
Initiating the Centre's Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Singh flagged off the UJALA van from Arrah. The van will travel across Bihar, distributing LED bulbs and spreading awareness about energy efficiency and energy conservation.
"As part of this initiative, 16,000 Indian villages with a significantly large number of low income households will be able to buy LED bulbs for a special price of Rs 50 under the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) programme.
"In Bihar, 635 villages will benefit under this programme. The LED bulbs will equip homes with energy-efficient, cost-effective lighting, and higher lumen output than conventional incandescent bulbs," the statement said.
Power Minister Singh, who also holds the new & renewable energy portfolio, launched the initiatives on the occasion of 127th Birth Anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar for the welfare of the underprivileged.
The minister reiterated the government's commitment to provide 24x7 power supply to all. He said that every household in the country will get electricity connection by December, 2018 under 'Saubhagya'.
Emphasising the importance of renewable energy for rural areas, the minister said, "Off-grid solutions will empower the local women and provide a reliable source of electricity for school going children so they can study and progress well. Thus, it will help in integrating the deprived sections of society with the mainstream".
The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan is launched by the government to promote social harmony and apprise rural communities of various government welfare schemes and initiatives. The campaign will be implemented between 14 April and May 5, 2018 in 16,000 villages across India.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)