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Empowering Tribes: India Unveils Ambitious Solar Program to Electrify 100,000 Homes Under PM JANMAN Initiative

published: 2024-01-10 18:05

MNRE has unveiled a fresh solar initiative aimed at bringing solar power to tribal regions in India. With a budget of INR 5.15 billion, the scheme intends to bring off-grid solar solutions to 100,000 tribal households without access to the traditional power grid. Additionally, the program will extend solar street lighting to 1,500 multi-purpose centers in PVTG areas.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has received approval from the President of India for a fresh solar energy initiative aimed at bringing electricity to 100,000 households in tribal areas lacking power. The newly proposed program, designed for Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) Habitations/Villages, is part of the Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM JANMAN). The off-grid solar approach may involve the implementation of solar home lighting systems (SHLS) or solar mini-grids, depending on the outcomes of field surveys.

The scheme, with a total budget of INR 5.15 billion ($62 million), is set to be disbursed over the span of three years: 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26. MNRE has confirmed the creation of a dedicated budget line, PM JANMAN, for this initiative. Off-grid solar systems will be provided to households in areas where grid electricity supply is not feasible from a techno-economic standpoint. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has identified eligible households in 18 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal, along with the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

The central government is set to fully cover the expenses for a 0.3 kW solar off-grid system in all 100,000 households, at a fixed rate of INR 50,000 ($602) per household. Furthermore, as part of the initiative, solar lighting will be extended to 1,500 multi-purpose centers (MOC) in off-grid PVTG areas, with the central government shouldering 100% of the costs, amounting to INR 100,000 ($1,203) per MPC. The respective distribution companies (discoms) in the PVTG region will serve as the implementing agencies for this program and will conduct open tenders for all components. As of December 31, 2023, India's overall off-grid solar capacity reached 2.75 GW, according to MNRE.

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