Special solar lanterns for Aila-hit Sundarbans villagers

June 15th, 2009 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 15 (IANS) Villagers in the remote islands of the Sundarbans can now avail of a new variety of solar lanterns that can be charged directly under sunlight. Their solar power panels in the mangrove forests, the only source of electricity in the area, were damaged by the Cyclone Aila earlier last month.
The lantern, priced at Rs.1,000, has been developed by the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corp.

“As it is not possible to reconstruct the solar panels immediately and the people are staying in relief camps almost in darkness after sunset, we thought of giving them these lanterns,” said company managing director S.P. Gon Chowdhury.

Around 1,000 lanterns will be distributed on an emergency basis in the region from Tuesday, Gon Chowdhury told IANS.

“These lanterns are very handy. The illumination is seven times brighter than that of kerosene lanterns,” he said.

The lanterns can be recharged by just placing them under direct sunlight. “There is no need for solar panels for these lanterns,” Gon Chowdhury added.

West Bengal Power Development Corp, power utility CESC, West Bengal State Electricity Board, Durgapur Projects Ltd, Pollution Control Board and West Bengal State Council of Science and Technology will finance 100 lanterns each.

Cyclone Aila that hit the state May 25 has damaged solar power panels worth Rs.50 crore in the Sunderbans. Solar power is the only source of electricity in many of the remote islands in the mangrove delta.

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