//Solar lights spell hope for schools in Jharkhand villages

Solar lights spell hope for schools in Jharkhand villages

Until a few years ago, each sunset brought an engulfing darkness over the Scheduled Tribe Girls’ Residential school near Tamar, 45 km from Ranchi, as happens through most of Jharkhand’s 32,000-odd villages, many without power till date.
But now, solar photovoltaic system (SPS)-fitted tube lights have ensured that every room of this boarding school can switch on a light at night for the first time ever. Result?
Manju, daughter of a migrant adivasi laborer, is readying for her Class VIII final exams, which are a week away. ‘‘I can study till late at night now,’’ she says. ‘‘I made first division in Class VII. This time I’m going to score over 70 percent,’’ she grins, exuding confidence.
Before the state Welfare Department (WD) introduced the solar lights in November 2003, the number of students who secured a first division in Class X was nil. In 2004, the number went up to six and 13 in 2005. ‘‘This year, the result will be even better,’’ hopes Shanti Tirkey, the school’s acting headmistress.
The move to solar power was backed by the WD-run Jharkhand State Tribal Cooperative Development Corporation Ltd (TCDC), which sanctioned the SPS scheme at an outlay of Rs 16.51 crore for 82 schools with 5,000 Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste students in 2004. This outlay went up to Rs 25.35 crore in 2005. The state government awarded the tender for installing the system to Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), on the condition that it would be responsible for system’s upkeep.