Solar power is paving the way for sustainable development in Uttarakhand

Devastated roads in UttarakhandDevastated roads in Uttarakhand © Rohit Joshi

The devastating floods in Uttarakhand were a wakeup call against the unchecked urbanisation in eco-sensitive areas. The destruction was of apocalyptic proportions and the aftershock of such a disaster will be felt for years to come.

In such a scenario the Indian Army is paving the way for a sustainable future by redeveloping the affected villages in a sustainable manner. Solar street lights have been installed in four villages in Rudraprayag district by the Border Security Force (BSF), which now plans to extend the benefit to seven other villages located in the Kalimath Valley. Each identified village will be allotted 20 to 30 solar lamps.

Quoting from the Daily Mail.

"The move helped the villagers gain their lost confidence. Our village consists of 68 families, of which about 35 families used to abandon their houses in evening for taking night halt at some other place. After the installation of solar lights, 15 families are now staying back at night," Surendra Singh, a resident of Chaumasi village, said.

"It is generally observed that whenever heavy rainfall takes place the power department cuts the supply of in remote areas. In such situations, the solar streetlights are more reliable than the general power supply. Our village too will benefit from this privilege soon," Laxman Satkari, a native of Kotma village, said. [1]

These solar street lights are providing the villagers a sense of security and at the same time it's a message of intent from our brave soldiers who risked their lives in undertaking one of the largest rescue operations ever. The message is loud and clear 'We can only move forward by working in harmony with nature and using the resources that mother nature has bestowed upon us and not by over-exploiting these gifts from our mother.'

Living in Delhi I see this scenario every day, where rather than making optimum use of the resources provided to us we are over-exploiting and at the same time misusing them. There are malls and corporate districts in Delhi and Gurgaon which are so well lit that it can give the sun a run for its money in terms of brightness and illumination. Conversely and rather perversely there are residential areas in Delhi where women are afraid to venture out at night due to dimly lit corridors and streets. This reminds me of a section in the critically acclaimed White Tiger by Arvind Adiga where he talks about an India of two halves, one which is in darkness and "half baked" and the other an affluent India full of illumination.

It's high time we merge the darkness and the light and it could only be done if we channelize the power of the sun. Being the capital of our country it is heart wrenching to see how poor urban planning is affecting our society. How about using the power of the sun to illuminate streets in our cities? If it's happening in a distant village in Uttarakhand then why not in Delhi, which receives abundant solar energy most of the year?

Let's take a pledge to develop Delhi in a sustainable manner by harnessing the greatest gift nature gave us, the power of the sun.

Find out how much energy you can generate from your rooftop, visit


[1] Solar power lights up Uttarakhand villages as BSF installs vital new streetlights, The Daily Mail, 25th August, 2013:


Shiwang Singh is a Strategic Response Campaigner with Greenpeace India.