Many rural areas in India have no access to electricity, and the largest of these are often the rural poor and their school children.

In response to such conditions affecting the night studies and other activities of school children in remote rural communities, the project “Localization of Solar Energy through Local Assembly, Sale and Usage of 1 Million Solar Urja Lamps (SoUL)”, initiated by IIT Bombay aims to empower populations in underserved communities, through high quality programs that meet their real needs to improve the quality of their lives. IIT Bombay has received a sanction from the Government of India’s Ministry of Finance’s National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) through the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for distributing 1 Million solar lamps to several states across India.

The solar study lamps will enhance school children’s daily night studies, exams preparation, home work and other educational programs. It provides numerous health, educational, environmental, and other effective benefits, including eliminating kerosene lanterns and wood fires that produce noxious fumes that are inhaled by such children thus causing health hazards to their lungs and eyes.

The project also improves education. Most school children in remote rural communities without electric light find it difficult to compete with their peers who can read more than three hours per night because of the availability of electricity. It would also relieve poor family members from the high expense of purchasing and transporting kerosene from long distance towns and cities.

As the project is intended for rural communities who need it the most, IIT Bombay accesses these communities by partnering with local NGOs for the implementation of the project. Districts are selected on various parameters such as number of households using kerosene, illiteracy rate, number of schools and student density in schools. Equal importance is also given to the sustainability of the project in the given district. This will be useful in ensuring the success of the project in terms of implementation and ensuring the long term operation of solar lamps.