Rampura Hero: Ghanshyam Yadav


When it came to encourage the use of solar energy in Rampura, the man of the hour was Ghanshyam Yadav. A pilot project was planned by Scatec Solar in collaboration with Development Alternatives to develop solar energy in Rampura village, Jhansi. Rampura was yet to be blessed with electricity. The goal of the project was to provide electricity by tapping renewable energy (solar energy), as well as provide educational and training support to the villagers in the areas of education, health care, raising the agricultural productivity, and improving water management.

A short time ago, most of the energy demands in Rampura were dependent on the fossil fuels. Here, kerosene lamps were used for the lighting purpose, diesel pumps for irrigation, cow dung for cooking, and so on. There was no TV, fan, etc., in the village. Children studied under the kerosene lamps in unhealthy conditions. Women would try to finish their cooking and household chores before it became dark in the evening. Although the village was and remains economically sound - Rampura has a good groundwater table and acres of cultivable land are being transformed into a model farm with multiple cropping (three crops in a year) - it was still backward with harsh living conditions and no electricity.

Scatec has set up two community solar power plants, one each in Rampura village outside Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, and the other at Gopalpur, through its affiliate, Scatec Solar. Scatec Solar wants to use the pilot project to demonstrate the viability, collect data and build a working model which will enable a large-scale roll-out across India and other similar regions of the world. When the representatives of DA and Scatec Solar came to Rampura, the first person they came across was Ghanshyam Yadav.

This forty five-year-old unassuming farmer from Rampura does not own a lot of land, but he truly believes in progress and development for all. It is his calling. He wants to transform his village into a model community with all the amenities and facilities that have been a dream till date. There is no step too difficult, or no road too hard in his endeavour.

As a result of Ghanshyam Yadav’s untiring efforts, from a village where there was no kind of schooling whatsoever, Rampura had its own primary school in 1997-98. The village children were finally able to study and learn. Yadav was also instrumental in building a Panchayat Bhavan, where the entire community carries out its activities. He was also instrumental in building a concrete road, connecting Rampura to the world. And this is certainly not the end of this man’s accomplishments.

In 1999, under the aegis of DA, Yadav started the Swajal Pariyojana in his village and acted as the president of this body. He also established a farmers’ club for the progress of the farmers in 2008 with the help of NABARD. He presides over this community as well.

When the talks were on to harness and bring about solar electricity to Rampura, Ghanshyam Yadav put his mind, body and soul into the endeavour. In his words, ‘I understood that my village was now on the road to real progress. In today’s times, one cannot avail of any growth or development without electricity.’

A Village Energy Committee was formed with local people’s representatives plus experts actively involved in the development of the area. This committee planned, implemented, monitored and controlled the project activities. The committee also helped to construct, operate and maintain the centre as well as to mobilise the rural masses for the various community activities.

Land was needed to install the solar apparatus required to electrify Rampura. Yadav managed to arrange for the same from the community holdings in the village. He had the area leveled out at his own expense and even got a layer of mud from outside the village and laid it over the field. Till the work of installing all the panels as also everything else went on, Ghanshyam Yadav was available, along with his motorcycle, tractor, and everything else he thought needed to get the work done. He refused to accept any remuneration for his efforts. He even had the people installing the set up staying as his guests.

In the beginning, Ghanshyam met with a lot of resistance from the villagers, but nothing deterred him. He said, ‘There is no greater faith than helping others’. Obstacles seemed to give him greater strength. And obstacles were numerous. None of the villagers were willing to buy the connection, but everyone wanted the poles to be planted right outside their house. Yadav held many meetings with the villagers, and gradually, people began to see the benefits of electricity. The resistance slowly crumbled. Then another problem arose. Some of the people did not have the money to pay for meter security or installing the set up in their house. Here too, the hero of Rampura came to their aid. He paid for 18 houses. The first 18 houses were able to boast of illumination.

Of the 69 households in Rampura, more than 50 households have electricity. Electronic equipments such as lights, fans, air coolers, TV sets can be seen in most of the houses. There is a flour mill too. Dozens of streetlights light up the dark, and at night, the village seems to belong to another world. Rampura has become famous in the entire region for its solar power.

The villagers are required to pay for the power, and the revenues generated will cover operations and maintenance costs, as well as the replacement of batteries. The contribution by the villagers also ensures that the community is engaged in the operation and maintenance of the plant and should motivate the villagers to take responsibility of the system. The electricity tariffs are based on what villagers currently pay for different sources of energy, such as kerosene and diesel.

The Rampura Electricity Generation Committee takes care of sundry activities, including meter readings, preparing the bills, distributing them, getting the payments, allotting new connections, putting up small industries based on electricity, etc. With experience, the people are getting better at it.

The entire miracle is all due to the untiring efforts of Ghanshyam Yadav. When lauded for his toils, the man smiles and says, ‘We must make history’.

Sageer Rehmani


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