Amidst the thick mangroves of the Sundarbans where tigers, deer and wild boars roam along waters rich with fish, saltwater crocodiles and dolphins, a community of fisherfolk and farmers ekes out a living.

A decade ago, diesel generators were the only source of power and kerosene lamps lit homes. Fuel, like other basic supplies, had to travel about five hours by road from Kolkata, and then on ferries. In 1993, the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) ushered in a sustainable electrification project that would help conserve the fragile ecosystem of the region while improving the lives and productivity of the 4 mn people residing in Sunderbans.

WBREDA commissioned the electrification of Sunderbans and chose Tata Power Solar (TPS) for this project, ensuring an uninterrupted power supply for masses. TPS set out to build solar power plants, micro grids, home lighting systems and centralized charging of solar lanterns in the villages of Sundarbans well before they had a Kolkata office. The engineers and personnel had to battle unfavorable living and weather conditions with the tricky transporting of panels and parts by boat to set up the projects. The people of Sunderbans have championed the efforts of TPS by embracing solar energy in every aspect of their daily chores

Economic activities have improved considerably in Sunderbans with the microgrid. The 15000 kWh generated in the past 11 years have lighted up over 200 homes. The village has uninterrupted power supply each day, which not only support lighting in schools and homes but facilitate night bazaars and grocery shops to be open till late night.

Indrapur Village
In Indrapur, every family and shop is allowed three or five power outlets at a fixed monthly rate of Rs 100 or Rs 150, respectively. On special occasions, the villagers enjoy six instead of five hours of electricity per day. Life and livelihood
The Mondal family - Boran, the patriarch of the Mondals, can weave a fishing net with his eyes closed. But after sunset, the TPS solar powered lights bring relief to his ageing eyes.
The Mondal family - Parol stitches up six old saris into a blanket while her daughter in law sun-drieschillies. Everything is done by hand in this village and light at night means she can now do chores in the evening she earlier used to postpone because of the darkness.
The Giri family – The Giris farm rice, grow vegetables in their kitchen garden and rear cows and goats for milk. A solar panel shines on the roof of their mud hut and a simple thing like a tube light is nothing short of life-changing
The Giri family – The Giri family – The Giris farm rice, grow vegetables in their kitchen garden and rear cows and goats for milk. A solar panel shines on the roof of their mud hut and a simple thing like a tube light is nothing short of life-changing
The Giri family – The Giris farm rice, grow vegetables in their kitchen garden and rear cows and goats for milk. A solar panel shines on the roof of their mud hut and a simple thing like a tube light is nothing short of life-changing
The Tutor - The winter sun sets as early as 4.30 pm in the east. But at NoreshPramanik’s tuition class, students read undisturbed under the white glow of solar powered lights.
Community and progress
Every fortnight, villagers from far and near gather in the narrow streets of Indrapur to buy and sell fruits, vegetables, grains and more. People can now work through the day without missing out on the bustling market which carries on into the night thanks to solar powered lamps.
Rajatjubili Village
On 9 March 2011, TPS set up a micro solar power station, funded by WWF-India and CAT-Australia. 60 households were given a programmable meter called ‘Urja Bandhu’ (an energy management device) which has a fixed quota per day, depending on the individual need of the household or establishment. The community-owned project has been a big success, not just powering homes 24 hours a day but enabling people to understand and implement sustainable energy practices to ensure uninterrupted power supply.On 9 March 2011, a micro solar power station was set up, funded by WWF-India and CAT-Australia. 60 households were given a programmable meter called ‘Urja Bandhu’(an energy management device) which has a fixed quota per day, depending on the individual need of the household or establishment. The community-owned project has been a big success, not just powering homes 24 hours a day but enabling people to understand and implement sustainable energy practices to ensure uninterrupted power. Life and livelihood
The TPS solar power plant, which now connects 60 households, six local businesses and three community buildings, sits on a plot donated by Ashit Ray, a local landowner.
Usha Sardar – Now that she has light after dark, Usha Sardar supplements her farming income with embroidery and making decorations for functions.
Usha Sardar – With the extra income, she has saved enough to buy a cycle van that helps her transport her ware to the function venue.
People and progress
Children study longer hours, and have access to television, getting a glimpse of the world beyond their village.
Shops stay open much longer and entrepreneurial ventures like mobile phone stores have mushroomed, giving a much needed boost to the village economy.
Brightly-lit streets keep tigers and other wild animals away, and have made late night bathroom visits safer.
Back to top