Building low-carbon villages in rural India
A new initiative designed to develop "low-carbon villages" complete with cheap, reliable solar power and household biogas cookstoves is underway in the Indian state of Karnataka, led by the Climate Parliament's Mr Prahlad Joshi MP. The pilot scheme, centred on the two villages of Kabbinuru and Haro Belavadi, is part of Mr Joshi's low carbon development plan for his constituency of Dharwad, and is being facilitated by the Climate Parliament and the SELCO foundation, with support from Prime Minister Modi's Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana rural development scheme.
Haro Belavadi and Kabbinuru are modest villages of around 500 households, yet both lack regular and reliable access to energy, exacerbated by the on-going power crisis in the state of Karnataka. However, the new scheme seeks to bring cheap, clean energy to the villagers in the form of solar power. The Karnataka-based energy consultancy SELCO Foundation has prepared feasibility reports and energy audits for both villages, and Mr Joshi's office is now coordinating the next stage of the process in securing funds from private corporate social responsibility partners and government development agencies, as well as following on with stakeholder discussions bringing together members of the community, the panchayat, and the project developers.
The scheme is part of an on-going commitment from several Climate Parliament MPs to implement low carbon development plans in their constituencies, targeting key goals such as energy, water, agriculture, cooking, etc., which together can steer development onto a low carbon pathway in rural India. In Karnataka, Mr. Pralhad Joshi, the MP from Dharwad, was at the helm of this initiative along with Mr. Arvind Bellad, MLA, Hubli Dharwad West, who also leads the Climate Parliament network in the Karnataka State Assembly. These legislators commissioned a detailed and comprehensive study, based on a few pilot villages in Dharwad, for the development of a Low Carbon Development Roadmap focusing on energy and development challenges.
Based on the roadmap, two programs are in the early stages of implementation. The first focuses on the distribution of household biogas units to replace traditional cooking fuels like firewood and cow dung, which although easily availble contribute to carbon emissions, deforestation and poor respiratory health for the women and children involved in cooking. The second scheme is aimed at providing solar-powered digital education systems in schools, as students in rural schools too often lack access to digital content due to lack of adequate technology, theft and power cuts.
Overcoming the financial and implementation challenges faced in the progress of this project has been accomplished only with the constant support of Mr. Joshi and Mr. Bellad, who have playd a vital role in securing not only political support, but also financing from corporate social responsibility schemes and rural development agencies such as the Sandad Adarsh Gram Yojana.