Cabinet approves 3 lakh solar street lights in NE states, Maoist-hit districts

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs 637 crore central assistance for solar power plants, solar street lights and solar study lamps in the northeastern states and Left Wing Extremism (Maoist) affected districts.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the third phase of Off-grid and Decentralised Solar PV (Photo Voltaic) Applications Programme to achieve additional 118 MWp (megawatt peak) off-grid solar PV capacity by 2020, an official statement said, citing Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Prasad said that 3,00,000 solar street lights will be installed throughout the country with special emphasis on areas where there is no facility for street lighting systems through grid power, northeastern states and Maoist-affected districts.

The second component of the programme comprises building stand-alone solar power plants of individual size up to 25 kWp (kilowatt peak) in areas where grid power has not reached or is not reliable.

“This component is mainly aimed at providing electricity to schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations and other public service institutions. The aggregated capacity of solar power plants would be 100 MWp,” Prasad said.

Further, 25 lakh solar study lamps would be distributed students in the northeastern states and Maoist-affected districts, the minister added.

The total project of the three components included under the phase-Ill, which is likely to generate 8.67 lakh man-days of employment for skilled and unskilled workers, is Rs 1,895 crore of which Rs 637 crore will be provided as central financial assistance.

“For solar street lights and solar power plants, financial support up to 30 per cent of the benchmark cost of the system will be provided except for NE states, hill states and island UTs where up to 90 per cent of the benchmark cost will be provided.

“For solar study lamps only 15 per cent of the lamp cost to be borne by beneficiary student and balance will be provided as financial support as such systems will be provided to school going children in backward and remote areas,” the statement said.

While the off-grid solar systems, which will provide power to schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations and other public service institutions, is also likely to open better livelihood opportunities for beneficiaries in rural and remote areas, the programme will benefit 40 lakh rural households.

Source: IANS