For a power-starved state, it will be a win-win situation. For, besides being environment-friendly, it will put no burden on stretched-to-the-limit conventional energy sources in the state grappling with demand and supply deficit.
Forest minister Sartaj Singh said the project would cost Rs 350 crore. The state government, union government and Norway government each would share one third of the cost. Norway government is providing technical and financial support for programme in association with the union ministry of new and renewable energy sources.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) R K Dave said the proposal has been sent to the union ministry of new and renewable energy sources. Once approved, the government will hire a consultant for preparing a detail project report (DPR) over some five months. Thereafter, it will be implemented in a phased manner.
"We may start with a few hundred villages to begin with," said Dave, adding the project would help win confidence of villagers and get their support for forest conservation.
Officials maintain most of these villages do not have conventional power supply. Under the proposal, every village will have solar power station with solar panels. It will power street lights, houses and fans. In some cases, it will also supply power for irrigation facility.
"All economic development is centered round energy. Once villages get power it will usher in prosperity to villagers," Dave said, adding that it would ring in economic opportunities for villagers. It will reduce villagers' independence on forest.
Besides, solar energy scores over conventional power in terms of advantages. With this source of energy, there will be no risk to wildlife, source said.
In the past, there were instances of wildlife loss on account of use of conventional source of energy in the country, sources added.
Of late, the forest department in its bid to reach out to villagers, of late organised a clutch of programmes and schemes. The latest move is expected to change the lives of inhabitants of forest villages for better.
The state government, union government and Norway government each would share one third of the cost