Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bhagalpur, Gaya to be Solar Cities

Two ancient cities of Patna - Bhagalpur and Gaya - will flaunt solar power. They have been selected under the solar city scheme of the union ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Under the ambitious scheme, 60 cities across the country are proposed to be developed in such a manner,
that a major part of their daily energy needs are met by solar power combined with other forms of renewable energy.

We sent proposals for Bhagalpur and Gaya and the MNRE approved them. Both cities will emerge as solar cities at the national level. The scheme aims at bringing down the dependency on conventional energy systems by enabling urban local governments to address energy challenges at the city-level, said Bihar Renewable Energy Development Agency (BREDA) director, Manish Kumar when HT appproached him.

Several towns and cities are experiencing rapid growth in peak energy demand and they are finding it difficult to cope with it. The intention is to cut the projected conventional energy demand by 10% at the end of five years, added Kumar.

In Bihar, BREDA is the nodal agency for the scheme, while a solar city cell would be created in the chosen cities to implement it. The district administration, municipal bodies, as well as, other stakeholders like businessmen, industrialists and important people would be part of the cell.

MNRE will provide financial assistance of Rs. 50 lakh to each city and technically assist the urban local governments to prepare a master plan to assess the current energy situation, future demand and action plans. Various stakeholders of the city would be involved in the planning process.

The initial funds would also be used for capacity building and increasing public awareness through promotional activities. Once it is all set, the scheme would be implemented in the cities through public-private partnerships (PPP). Rooftop solar panels would be used for lighting, water heating, and other energy needs in residential and commercial areas.

BREDA officials said, they have written to the district magistrates and municipal commissioners of both the selected districts to expedite the process of creating the solar city cells and prepare master plans. But, the district officials are yet to respond despite several reminders.

In fact, Chandigarh and Nagpur have become the first two cities to formulate the master plans on the way towards becoming solar cities.


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