Solar lights to illuminate tribal areas

There is finally light at the end of the road for tribal hamlets in Mumbai. The municipal corporation has started making use of solar-run streetlights to illuminate arterial roads and lanes of these hamlets.

Even as electricity keeps the urban pockets in most parts of the city lit for 234 hours, families residing in most tribal belts in the city, also referred to as Adhivasi Padas, are forced to walk in the dark.

"There is always a fear of a snake or a scorpion bite in dark streets," said Madhavi Ghorat, a tribal, residing in Kombdipada at Aarey colony. Solar lights have now begun illuminating these areas.

The civic standing committee on Tuesday approved a proposal to install solar lights for the roads and lanes in 12 hamlets located at Aarey colony in Goregaon. Civic officials said 330 solar lights will be installed in these areas in a phased manner. The project will cost the BMC Rs1.29 crore.

The municipal corporation has already installed solar-run streetlights in six tribal belts in Gorai. Tribal areas in Bhandup have also been recently illuminated by solar lights.
Civic officials said that plan was to use solar empowered lights wherever possible. The municipal corporation has also decided to appoint three contractors--one each for the western and eastern suburbs and the island city-for installation of solar-powered streetlights.

While the initial plan is to install such solar lights in narrow lanes and unlit areas, the BMC has plans to put up such lights all across the city. "While the initial cost of setting up a solar light is about Rs30,000 per pole, the maintenance is low. The corporation spends Rs80 crore annually on streetlights. We are hoping that the solar lights will reduce the burden substantially." He added that the change will also help save electricity.