The Union Cabinet has approved phase three of the Off-grid and Decentralised Solar PV Application Program.
The program, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aims at providing left-wing extremism (LWE) affected districts and northeastern states with solar power plants, solar street lights and solar study lamps. Areas devoid of grid connectivity with no facility of street lighting solution will also get precedence over other areas. A total of 3,00,000 solar street lights will be installed across the country as part of the program. The program also aims to achieve 118 MWp off-grid solar PV capacity by 2020.
Under the program, central assistance worth ₹6.37 billion (~$0.095 billion) will be provided to these states, districts, and union territories to be utilized for the implementation of the program. These initiatives will incur a total cost of ₹18.95 billion (~$0.28 billion).
According to the plan, areas with unreliable power supply or lack of grid connectivity will be promoted for stand-alone solar power projects. Size of these projects will be up to 25 kWp. The focus of these installations will be public buildings, such as schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations etc.
The program will also distribute 25,00,000 solar study lamps in northeastern states and LWE affected districts.
Northeastern and other hill states, along with islands will receive 90 percent of the benchmark cost for solar street lights and solar power projects. Other states can avail financial support up to 30 percent of the benchmark cost of the projects. In case of study lamps, 85 percent of the cost will be provided to beneficiary students in backward and remote areas.
It is estimated that 4 million rural households will benefit from the third phase of the program and it is likely to generate 867,000 man-days of employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers.
To compensate for lack of power and erratic supply of electricity in the far-flung regions of the country, the government of India, through the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has also been running a program under which solar study lamps have been distributed in various states across the country.
“One million solar study lamps have been distributed in three Indian states under the One Million Solar Study Lamps Program which was approved in January 2014 by MNRE for empowering underserved communities. The states which benefited from this program are Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan,” the minister of Power, R.K. Singh, announced earlier this year.
Earlier, Mercom reported that about 250.1 million smart and energy efficient LED bulbs were distributed under the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) program by the government, as of July 12, 2017.