Koppal, is a populated district with 7 talukas in the Northern part of Karnataka and is also an important hub for the neighbouring districts. The primary occupation in the district is agriculture, small industries and attracts a lot of migrant daily wage labourers as employment is available in the region. Post lockdown due to COVID-19, one of the first steps taken by the district administration was to close the borders with the neighbouring districts to avoid local spread as the neighbouring district Hospete, was identified as a hotspot having some positive cases detected. About 350 migrant workers have been quarantined and have been provided shelter in the local schools and public utility buildings. The district hospital has been converted into a COVID testing centre, however the tests are being sent to Hyderabad presently by road. Compared to other districts in Karnataka, the lockdown has been quite severe with only medical shops and other basic essential services being open.
SELCO India, a social enterprise, has been working in the region since 2011 and has provided all kinds of renewable energy-based solutions to communities. Solutions have also been provided to local administration like panchayat buildings, street lights through government orders, ITI and skill training institutes, government colleges etc.
Check posts have been established at the district borders which are being overseen by the police and public health staff. Due to these check posts being situated on highways, they did not have any connectivity to electricity. The panchayats of the neighbouring villages had allowed for the grid to be extended to the Checkpost eventually, however it is subject to voltage fluctuations and frequent power disruptions. A small shed has been set up at each check post which houses about eight people – four to five police personnel and three health staff. Permission was granted to install systems at five check posts.
Mr Manjunatha, SELCO India branch manager for the district was approached by the police department via video call regarding the unreliable power situation. The personnel were having to rely on torches inside the shed and the need was felt most inside as they are spending a considerable amount of time in the space. From the day of the request raised, the paperwork being signed and system installed; it was done within a span of three days.
Energy System: A hybrid system with 2 lights and one fan was installed with the panel mounted on top of the shed. The battery is placed inside the shed and the system provides a back up of 4-5 hours. Due to unseasonal rains and heavy winds, the electricity constantly dips with the solar system switching on.
Impact: The staff are comfortably being able to access the shed space as they work on a rotational basis. They are able to work, read, rest, eat comfortably even when there is no grid power.