Did Maalwadi Gaothan have bright future?
Maalwadi Gaothan is a hamlet that is not on the electricity grid at all. All the houses in this hamlet use kerosene lamps for lighting up their homes. These dim lights, barely sufficient to light up even one small room in the house are certainly not enough to light up the outdoors. The path from the main village to this hamlet had no lights, which was inconvenient to say the least. Sundown meant Lights out. Literally.
A solar street light installed at the junction of the two main foot trails that pass through this hamlet, now lights up the trails after dark as well as reaches the verandahs of about six houses in the hamlet; much to the delight of the women and children especially.
They say that they feel much safer now going to or returning from the main village after dark. The women also find it convenient that they can now finish some household chores in the light just outside their homes. This has also become a gathering space for families to relax and chat late in the evenings.
Grid streetlights in cities are often superfluously on; much after sun is already at his job. These Solar Streetlights are efficient systems, with sensors- auto-on at sunset and auto-off at sunrise. But they do need proper maintenance. Regular cleaning of the panels, checking water level in the batteries, checking the battery connections for carbon accumulation etc is very important to ensure their long life. We found the people, especially the youth, very eager to participate and learn in the training program we conducted to facilitate this- a sure sign that the Solar Street light has been a success and people are ready to take ownership of it.
Now, they can’t wait to go further and bring Solar Home light systems to their hamlet too.
“Earlier we had to go out at night with candles or a torch, to wash vessels or tend to the animals. The soap bar or ash that we use to clean vessels got lost, left behind in the dark! Now with this solar light, the darkness is gone; we can see where we are going.” - Anita Aglave, Gunjalwaadi Pathaar, Ahmednagar District