Soon, 250,000 villages across India will have solar-powered internet under the Common Service Centres (CSCs) program. This initiative by the government is aimed at providing banking, pension, digital literacy, and tele-medicine services to rural and remote villages.
“CSCs are working in 1.8 lakh gram panchayats and very soon it will reach 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by end of the year,” news agency PTI quoted Information and Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying.
Solar power has become an effective instrument in realizing the Digital India program. Under the program, DigiGaon or Digital Village is conceptualised as a connected village where people can access different e-services of both central and state governments. It also enables private sector to reach rural and remote parts of the country.
The purpose of DigiGaon is to bring an overall change in rural India by promoting entrepreneurship and creating capacities and livelihoods through local and community participation. These villages have community centers with solar lighting facility, LED assembly unit, sanitary napkin unit, wi-fi choupal etc.
Dhanauri Kalan village in Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh is the sixth digital village in the country. Piyala and Dayalpur (in Haryana), Chandankiyari East and Shivbabudih (in Jharkhand), and Dhanauri Kalan and Sultanpur (in Uttar Pradesh) have been chosen for the pilot phase. Another 700 digital villages will be established by the year end.
Previously, Mercom reported that India has set a target to build at least 10,000 microgrids and mini-grids using renewable technology across the country by 2021 with a total of 500 MW capacity under its National Microgrid Policy and had allocated $740 million for village electrification in its 2017-18 budget.
Mercom also reported about the Indian government’s seriousness in pursuing the advancement of solar microgrids in the country. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has financially assisted the installations of microgrids in rural areas where it has provided financial support up to 30 percent of the cost of micro and mini grids systems for installation.
Recently, the government announced that with the electrification of Leisang village in the Senapati district of Manipur, India has now achieved total electrification of its 597,464 inhabited villages. However, this announcement is largely symbolic and does not mean that 100 percent of the rural households have electricity as a village is considered electrified as soon as 10 percent of the total number of households in the village have been electrified. Therefore, given the shape of things in the Indian countryside, solar power is the only hope to bring light to the lives of millions of people in rural India.
Image credit: Biswarup Ganguly [CC BY 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Nitin is a staff reporter at Mercomindia.com and writes on renewable energy and related sectors. Prior to Mercom, Nitin has worked for CNN IBN, India News, Agricultural Spectrum and Bureaucracy Today. He received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Communication from Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University and Master’s degree in International Relations from Jindal School of International Affairs. More articles from Nitin Kabeer