Appapur and Rayaletipenta are hamlets in the Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary located in the Lingala and Amrabad mandals of Mahbubnagar district. Forty families belonging to the Chenchu community, a primitive tribe are living in the hamlets. They do not have access to conventional energy sources and are prohibited from using forest wood by the existing forest laws. Hence, these hamlets were chosen for powering with solar energy by providing street lighting, home lighting, individual lanterns energy for community TV and solar driers.
The forty households of Appapur and Rayaletipenta hamlets were the first in Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to utilize solar energy. Home lighting systems, independent solar lanterns, street lighting system and Community TV were installed in the forty households. The children at the Ashram school, Appapur went from house to house during installation to look at the new system and come to the village at night to read under the light!
The project implementation is carried out through a committee consisting of members from EPTRI, ThinkSoft Consultants, experts from a College and Sahajeevan a local NGO. The committee met four times at EPTRI and prepared the Project Implementation Plan (PIP). The PIP includes location specific details, social-economic profile, type of systems, choice of people, training and extension.
Identification and selection of technology providers was carried out with the help of Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP). The suppliers were made aware of the importance of the project, site situation and the specific requirements. In the first phase street lighting systems and home lighting systems were installed during April – May 2004.
In the second phase solar driers and colour TVs were installed besides installing the left over home lighting and street lighting system in the first phase. The technology providers carried out the installation with the active involvement and support of a local NGO, EPTRI, NEDCAP and local community leaders
Children of Rayaletipenta started to play even at dusk. The individual lanterns have become a source of security to them especially at times when the elders of the hamlet are still in the forest. One lady remarked,
“we never thought that we would be able to cook under light in my life time!”
Girijan Cooperative Corporation, government departments and other institutions are now holding regular night meetings in the hamlets, as the tribal people are usually available in the night times. The local press has carried articles and statements issued by the local people about the solar lighting in Chenchu hamlets!
All the equipment installed was covered under service contract for a period of 5 years. Local people were involved actively right from the beginning of the programme and adequately trained to maintain the equipment installed with the help of a local community head after the warranty period is over. The local community head is collecting nominal charges from the beneficiaries and thus created a fund, which will be used for maintenance of the equipment created under the project. The local NGO is closely monitoring the programme and rendering advice and assistance to the community whenever they sought.
It has become the central point of most discussions in Appapur and there are now increasing requests from other hamlets in the area for similar installations