New Delhi | Agastyaa Gupta: When Neel visited Ladakh in 2019, he attained a stark view of reality. Standing at an altitude of nearly 14,000 feet in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, India, he got a glance of the lifestyle of the villagers of Yougar, across the ice blue Zanskar River. Many other villages dotted across Ladakh are still not connected to the national power grid and this darkness still exists in the 21st century. It was then when he understood the true power of technology.
The pandemic of 2020 led to a surge in fundraising programmes which operated with little transparency and took large cuts of the donations. Unlike these programmes, Neel wanted to make a significant change in people's lives. He started a small organisation to help provide as many people as he could with renewable energy. This would support them in the harsh climatic conditions, with temperatures dropping down to minus 30 degrees Celsius.
The funds were raised in the most diligent way possible to ensure that they were utilised for the purpose that they were raised for. By providing an alternative to fossil fuels, they attempted to prevent the damage caused to skin, lungs and eyes as well as the delicate Himalayan ecology.
-Who are the people who may benefit from it?
The project aims to assist the remote Ladakhi communities that do not have a sufficient source of income and access to electricity. Furthermore, the newer generations migrate to the major cities while the older generations stay in the villages. The simplicity and time saved by the solar water heaters majorly benefit the older generations as they are not forced to cut firewood and wait for hours for hot water.
-Details about the work being done.
They have been working during the pandemic and have been able to raise funds to install 37 solar water heaters with a carbon offset of 1387.5 tons per heater over its 15-year life cycle.
Their aim is to install 55 solar water heaters by the end of 2021. They have reached 60 per cent of their target so far.
-Impact of the project
It would benefit the local communities by providing them with easy access to hot water (which is a necessity given the harsh climactic conditions), protects them from skin, eye and lung damage due to the burning of fossil fuels in closed areas. Using renewable energy further strengthens our fight against climate change.
-How it would benefit from media coverage
In order to install solar water heaters, we need funds and this can only be done by attracting a larger audience. With the help of media coverage, we would potentially be able to raise more funds for India's communities. We could possibly make an impact on every village in need in this country.
Posted By: Aalok Sensharma