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Bathe the city in sunlight...

The whole of India is about to experience a sun-storm! Gone will be the days of frequent power breakdown, non-functioning traffic signals and chaos on the road. All thanks to solar energy, solar light. RANA A. SIDDIQUI speaks to Indrajit Das Gupta, the sunshine man... .



Indrajit Das Gupta... .time to utilise solar energy. Photo: V.V Krishnan.

IMAGINE DELHI enveloped in dark. Traffic lights put off at more than one place across a stretch of a few kilometres. Frequent power breakdowns. Chaos. Imagine! This exists in Delhi, you would say. But imagine a situation just the opposite. The Capital all aglow even when winds blow or clouds engulf the environs; no damaged traffic lights and smooth traffic flow.

Now if you are told that power theft can become negligible and you will get light 24-hours-a-day at least for 20 years by just borrowing a very small amount of sun light from the Sun God, how would you like it?

It may sound impractical but this is what Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Lucknow and many other places are going to witness. At a time when India is facing power deficit of nearly 35 per cent annually, Indrajit Das Gupta, 52-year-old Managing Director of Luminelle Advertisement Private Limited promises you full lights at traffic booths, red lights, streets, public toilets, shopping complex, cinema halls, parks and even in residential colonies.

"India has a potential of 5000 trillion kilowatt hour per year. And if we use only two per cent of it, we can solarise the entire India," goes his claim.

You would like to know what does solar light mean. In simple terms it is just converting sunlight into non-conventional solar energy, the energy that can light up the world without the conventional electric power. It is the new concept - mass communication through solar energy that Indrajit, an economics graduate from St. Xaviers, Kolkata developed in 1994. He ignited his experiment from a VVIP Road called Nazrul Islam Road. The concept came to Delhi in 1995 with the CGO complex illuminating with solar energy. Then Haryana saw its first traffic solar lights in November 2001. They are still running uninterrupted by winds, rains or pollution. It later spread to Lucknow at Hazrat Ganj.

Indrajit, who is the world's only man to own two mass communication media, an established claim in Guinness Book of World Records and the one who introduced in India the concept of illuminated glowsigns for outdoor publicity, now has in hand 34 sites in Delhi, six cities of Uttar Pradesh: Allahabad, Bulendshahar, Meerut, Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Noida and also Hyderabad and Karnataka.

If you have noticed, the entire Delhi Haat is almost being solarised, Malcha Marg, Mool Chand Hospital Crossing, Chandagi Ram Akhada near Red Fort, Rotary Club of Noida are in line. When the Government of India saw the pilot project on Gurgaon Road working without fault since 1995, it offered him, well, Delhi Secretariat and Vidhan Sabha! Now, Delhi Traffic Police has invited him to set up its solar mass communication at Delhi Pavilion. Haryana will soon have 35 traffic signals at 182 km distance each on its national highway.

Now major petrol group Shell Group of Companies wants it and so do Salwaan Public School and Rai Foundation. A year back, even Indian Air Force invited Gupta for the same.

You would ask, what's so great about solar lights? "It is infinite source of unlimited light, which is non-polluting, renewable, and serves the user at least for 20 years without a gap," Gupta says.

But then, it is expensive and its maintenance is not hassle-free. Hence, many solar projects did not work.

"I don't refute the cost part. But it is only one-time investment. Just compare spending one lakh for more than 20 years in solar energy and changing the number of bulbs and tube lights, etc at your place in this period. Its maintenance mahamantra is, keep it clean, broom it every second day to prevent suspended air particles and sunlight go inside. Wash every fortnight. In rainy season, you even don't need to do the washing."

"It is also easily replaceable. You have to change the battery every four years only," he informs.

Well, you will soon witness public interest messages at key traffic junctions for your education too.

And if everything goes well in all 32 States, Gupta claims that more than 50 thousand unemployed youth will get job in this sector. The government is also being persuaded to give soft loans to consumers to have solar energy.

Well, sounds convincing! Hence, this winner of several awards from the Government of India specially Renewable Energy Golden Award in 1996 from the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy has reliance as its first sponsor and Nafisa Ali championing the cause.

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