The Government of Gujarat plans to launch a solar power generation scheme for slum dwellers. Not only will slum dwellers get free power, but also the government will also pay them for surplus power that they generate by installing solar panels.

The state government in Gujarat has unveiled a new scheme to promote solar power generation in slums. This is one of the slew of measures that the state government has been launching to promote solar power generation. In the first phase, the government had launched a scheme for solar rooftop, for residential houses. 

Now, it seems that the opportunity and target segment being slums, it presents

a larger opportunity to touch people and households. It is also to perhaps transcend boundaries, and make no difference atleast in terms of policy needs for people who may be living in slums ( and therefore maybe below a certain income level).

Such schemes had been launched for farmers under the name of Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) for farmers and launched in June last year. There was a 60% subsidy element that was there, for farmers who had electricity connection, under that scheme.  The balance amount of 40% was partly funded through a loan and a very small component of 5% was to be paid by the farmer. Again, such schemes while all launched with good intentions need to be promoted well and provided immense visibility. These need to be backed by a powerful promotion campaign that can help deliver the message to the intended audience loudly. Success stories need to be told and re told, to help drill the message of savings. If this element is missing, the results may be below expectations as happenned with the SKY scheme.

The scheme for slum has been launched with a view to provide access to the slunm dwellers to install solar panels and derive savings, just like the people staying in concrete houses in cities. It has to be promoted well. Initial success stories have to be told well. Visibility needs to be upped, to ensure that the concept of installing solar on rooftops in slums also takes off. Perhaps small clips in vernacular, have to be created to deliver the message of cost savings, and electricity bill reductions. 

If the scheme does well, it can well be scaled up in other cities and states. Other state governments can take a cue and fine tune as per their region needs. It can serve twin benefits : One is to help reduce the electricity theft in slum and areas around. With solar installed, residents will see little incentive in resulting in measures to avoid paying bills. With T & D losses under control, and reducing the transmission companies can benefit. And financial health for them improves. The other bid advantage is in touching a large mass of people, possibly with connects in villages. Since a large part of the slum dwellers are migrant labourers also, living in rent, and in groups, the message of electricity bill reductions and savings gets amplified via them. 

It can well, have a positive impact in other areas as well. 

The key question is how well will the implementation and execution be, and what are the paramters and KRAs that are set for a well intentioned subject like this.  

“The state government is attempting to make the scheme as feasible as possible for slum dwellers, with the government bearing a major portion of the installation cost. The scheme will have both individuals as well as community solar power generation options. Initially, the government is likely to implement the scheme in slum pockets of major cities as a pilot project,” official added.

Under the solar scheme, the government will set up flexible solar panel domes in slums and use vacant spaces in the slums to generate electricity. The electricity produced will be supplied to the slum and additional or excess power generated will be purchased by the government.


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