Odisha government has set a target to electrify at least 406 villages through solar power during 2017 after providing similar facilities to 1620 villages so far. This was revealed by Odisha’s Science and Technology Minister Badri Narayan Patra while addressing a press conference on completion of the three years in office by the Biju Janata Dal government. Claiming that the state run Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OERDA) has played a vital role in providing renewable energy to the people living in forested and hilly areas, the minister said, of the 1620 villages so far electrified with solar energy, 145 villages are located in remote area inhabited by tribal population.
This apart, the minister said the solar power also helped the administration in providing drinking water to the people in remote areas. The tube-wells and pump sets are run through solar power in remote areas where electricity connection could not reach due to geographical difficulties.
The minister said so far 6439 solar pump set projects are established in remote areas where above 15 lakh people get benefits. “This year, we have planned to set up at least 2,000 solar solar pump projects and convert 600 traditional pump centres to solar pump projects,” Patra said.
While highlighting his department’s activities, Patra said at least 689 solar pump set projects are used for irrigating agricultural fields. Solar pump sets irrigates about 8268 acre of land and the government has planned to set up 1,000 solar pump units to use in agricultural purpose this year.
In its bid to popularise renewable energy among the people, the government has set up solar power units in roof tops of ST, SC Hostels, police stations and other places where about 2 MW of power is generated per day.
The state has distributed about 51,966 solar lanterns among the weavers and other skilled workers so that they are able to work for additional 3-4 hours every day, the minister said adding that these people also get rid of smoke emitting from the kerosene lamps. He claimed that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has awarded the Odisha government for extensive use of solar lanterns during 2015-16.
As part of the renewable purchase obligation, the state government has set up a 25 MW capacity solar power project in Bolangir district from where power is sold to the Grid Corporation of Odisha (Gridco). Patra said his department in a bid to popularise science among the people has been setting up the state’s second planetarium at Burla. Plans have also been made to set up similar planetarium at Rayagada, Mayurbhanj and Ganjam districts, he said.