Mumbai, July 2, 2016: While announcing the completion of 1 Million Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL) programme of IIT Bombay in record time, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) Mr Piyush Goyal also announced the scaling up of the programme to 10 crore students across the country. “MNRE will provide the required financial support of Rs. 1800 crore for this mission,” he said. Mr Piyush Goyal also appreciated the efforts of villagers who assembled and distributed the lamps.
Director of IIT Bombay Professor Devang Khakhar lauded the efforts of the project team. “The SoUL project is the largest project implemented by IIT Bombay. It has benefited 1 million school children. We are proud of this achievement and are grateful for the help of sponsors of the project,” he said.
Head of the programme Professor Chetan S. Solanki from Department of Energy Science and Engineering said, “IIT Bombay has always been a strong advocate for ‘Right to Light’. We want to ensure every school student gets sufficient light to study. Our solar lamps have solved that problem”. He further added that about 10 crore students in the country from tribal blocks, high kerosene consumption blocks and educationally-backward blocks will benefit from the programme.
The large-scale solar lamp programme addressed the issues of scale, speed and skill. Million SoUL focused on the ‘localization of solar energy’ in consonance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India’. The objective of this program was to provide clean light for study purpose to every child in the country in the fastest and most cost-effective manner. For this, IIT Bombay partnered with NGOs having presence at grassroot level. Solar study lamps were assembled, distributed, used and repaired by rural people. In order to achieve scale, the model was designed in such a way that it could be replicated in parallel in multiple blocks, across districts and states. For achieving speed, the assembly and distribution for any block was designed to be completed in 90 days. To target skill development, rural people were trained to assemble, distribute and repair the lamps.
The programme was implemented in 2014-16 with financial support from the MNRE, Government of India and other philanthropic partners like Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and corporates like Idea Cellular Pvt. Ltd. It has integrated IIT Bombay’s technical expertise in solar lamp technology, operations, concurrent evaluation and impact analysis.
One million solar study lamps were distributed in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Odisha, covering 23 districts, 97 blocks and 10,900+ villages. There were 54 assembly and distribution centres and 350 Service Repair Centres in operation with 1,409 trained manpower. It was committed to reach the most marginalized communities with its presence in 77% tribal blocks and 83% educationally backward blocks1. Prof. N. C. Narayayanan from Center for Technology Alternatives in Rural Areas and Prof. Jayendran V. from Industrial Engineering and Operation Research are also fully involved in the project planning and execution.