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TERI brings solar power to Manmohan’s village in Pak

The Indian Express, New Delhi, 7th October, 2012

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's birthplace, village Gah in Chakwal district of Pakistan's Punjab, is seeing a change with solar power.

Around 51 families in the village, which never had access to power, now form a "mini-grid" of solar electricity, which powers lanterns at their homes and water heaters at three mosques.

The slow shift to renewable energy in Gah is owing to a "goodwill" programme by The Energy Resources Institute, which chose the village largely because of it being the PM's birthplace.

"The school where the PM studied still has his marksheet and, as you would imagine, it shows that Dr Singh was by far the brightest student," said R K Pachauri, head of TERI.

Encouraged by the success at Gah, TERI is planning to install two more solar micro-grids in a nearby district. Pachauri is going to meet Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari next week to try and take the project to the next level. "It is mainly a non-governmental initiative but any cooperation from the Pakistani government is welcome," he said.

A TERI team is also visiting Islamabad to raise funds for the project through concerts by rock bands from India and Pakistan. The project is part of TERI's global campaign 'Lighting Up a Billion Lives', which takes Indian solar-energy products, especially for household lighting, and other renewable energy solutions like biomass stoves to villages untouched by electricity.