The government’s solar water pump scheme has now come in handy in taking power to untapped areas in Gujarat. The Indian Salt Manufacturer Association (ISMA) has planned to install solar water pumps in the salt belt of Kutch region and some parts of Saurashtra which will see surplus power being consumed by salt workers for residential purpose. This is set to save diesel cost for salt producers. ISMA will install about 600 solar driven water pumps in this year. According to the association, each diesel-run pump entails a fuel cost of around Rs 7.5 lakh a year, while solar pump brings down this down by 70-75 per cent.
“It is viable to use solar water pumps at the salt field and government is also offering a subsidy for its installation. The cost of operating a solar pump is much lower than that of a diesel-driven pump, which is why have decided to install solar-driven water pumps that will also give salt workers surplus power for their homes,” said Bharat Raval, president of ISMA. Raval added, “Salt fields in Saurashtra and Kutch are very big and power supply to such remote areas is not possible. That’s why manufacturers have to use diesel water pumps which entail a fuel cost of about Rs 7.5 lakh a year. A solar pump will reduce the annual maintenance and fuel costs by 60-70 per cent or more. Furthermore, it will solve power supply issues in internal areas.”
The association is currently collecting details of such pumps and requirements of salt manufacturers, on the basis of which it will recommend pump size and capacity to salt producers.
“We have asked salt producers to send their proposals to the association so that we can understand their requirement. After that we will suggest them size and capacity of solar water pump. The association will assist them in installing the pumps and getting the related government benefits.” According to the ISMA, Gujarat is the largest salt manufacturing state in India with about 70 per cent share of the domestic market and a workforce of over 125,000.