Chhattisgarh turns to solar energy to counter Maoists’ sabotage

June 12th, 2008 - 12:39 am ICT by IANS  

Raipur, June 11 (IANS) Chhattisgarh plans to tap solar energy in state’s southern restive Bastar region to overcome repeated attacks by Maoist guerrillas on the power distribution system. Officials have prepared a plan to invest heavily on lighting up the interior areas of forested Bastar region’s five districts - Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Kanker - with solar power in current fiscal 2008-09. Solar energy will be utilised in an area spread over 40,000 sq km.

“The idea was mooted by Chief Minister Raman Singh. We will start installing solar machines in villages through local agents,” an official of the Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) told IANS Wednesday.

He said the solar power system will be extremely handy for the hilly Bastar terrain where laying power transmission lines and installing poles are time consuming and costly.

Barring Kanker, four Bastar districts are facing a blackout since June 5 after insurgents blew up 220 KV transmission towers at a forested stretch Barsoor, based in rebels’ stronghold Dantewada district.

The government has sent about 200 engineers and technicians of the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board under heavy police security to restore towers, but board officials said that Maoist threat and now heavy monsoon rain since Tuesday afternoon have been delaying the work.

The blackout has hit about four million people.

In recent months, Maoist rebels repeatedly targeted power infrastructure in various districts of Bastar region. In May last year too, they caused major damage to transmission lines and towers and kept the entire region in darkness for about 10 days.

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