UDAIPUR: On the occasion of 11th Civil Services Day on Friday, Dungarpur collector Surendra Singh Solanki was honoured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a function held at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
Solanki was conferred with the award in the category of best innovation for implementation of solar lamp project in Dungarpur district. A short documentary on the solar lamp programme was screened on the occasion which showed the impact of the project that has turned poor and lesser educated tribal women in remote areas of Dungarpur district into green entrepreneurs.
“Before this project, whenever it was about women empowerment or livelihood training for the fairer sex, it had been confined to Papad or pickle making or distributing sewing machines. But first time, we thought of creating ‘barefoot engineers’ and tried to connect women with technology,” Solanki told TOI over phone.
The project- The solar lamp initiative empowered local women, from the most backward blocks of Rajasthan, to earn their livelihoods by becoming solar entrepreneurs and a roaring success for Rajeevika entrusted with the task of generating livelihoods. Last year, the district administration had invited IIT Bombay to start its program of solar study lamp distribution (Project Million SoUL) in remote areas by forming partnership with cluster level federations (CLFs) of Rajeevika (Rajasthan Grameen Ajeevika Vikas Parishad). The lamps in Dungarpur were subsidised to make them affordable for all. The initiative focused on local development of solar enterprise, for which 150 women self help group (SHG) members from CLFs were trained and mentored to locally assemble and sell the lamps.
Later a team of 500 women joined the band and made a record income of 75 lakh rupees by marketing 60 thousand solar lamps in few months. The most important part of the project was that local women were trained to provide repair and maintenance to the lamps by setting up solar shops so that regular maintenance was available for these lamps. The lamps were distributed to students and needy people at competitive prices thus benefiting the masses at large.