Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed the button to start the country’s first solar powered district court in Khunti on October 2, 2015.
Modi had arrived to the tribal heartland, four days after he emphasised India’s commitment to realise the vision of 175 GigaWatts of clean energy by 2022 at roundtable on renewable energy with top energy CEOs and experts in Silicon Valley.
Some three years after, 11 out of 24 district courts are now illuminated with solar-powered, producing 1180 KW, and improving delivery of justice at the Law Courts situated in far flung areas and, at the same time, contributing to realize, though a little bit, to reach to the goalpost set by Modi.
Overwhelmed with the fiat, achieved by the State Judiciary headed by acting Chief Justice D N Patel, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is flying all the way to Ramgarh to inaugurate one of the newly installed solar plants in Ramgarh, some 45 km from here, on July 28.
All the 11 courts, located in remote parts of the State, have been facing frequent power outages which caused delays in delivery of services. Often, there was power for two-three hours, affecting the proceedings in courts as well as the typing of decisions on cases. Court rooms, registries and offices were also plunged into darkness with every power cut, sometimes 6-7 times during courts hours. The DG set was there but it had its own problem, adding to huge diesel consumption and air pollution.
Now, these are things of the past. “Now, we stay longer in the court beyond duty hours when we find that there is no power back in our home. The court is now running with zero power cut and zero bills from the State’s Energy department,” said a judicial officer in Khunti.
The district courts illuminated with crescent-shaped solar mirrors are Khunti, Sahibganj, Garhwa, Simdega, Chatra, Ramgarh, Koderma, Latehar, Jamtara, Pakur and Seraikela-Kharsawan.
“We have also a plan to illuminate the court in Jamshedpur soon if we get a suitable piece of land,” pointed out Justice Patel, who has scripted the success story of harnessing green power for delivering justice in Jharkhand.
So far, these 11 roof top plants have generated over 15,19,721 units costing over Rs 8.3 crore if we calculate the bills at Rs 5.50 per unit only.
“Also, the plants are not affected by Monsoon vagaries. Once fully charged, the panels will produce electricity to charge batteries, which are equipped to retain charge for a week,” he pointed out.
Justice Patel, a science graduate, said the project is cost effective too. “For example, the 180 KW plant, set up with an investment of Rs2.21 crore in Khunti, will generate uninterrupted and constant power for 25 years and thereafter with diminishing efficiency for next 15-20 years. If we calculate the cost keeping in view the minimum 25 years’ longevity, it comes to Rs73, 660 per month and since the court will be using only 68 KW, the investment will come around Rs36,000 only,” he pointed out.
The power produced lights up 390 tube lights, 325 fans, 35 computers, 35 printers, five ACs and 50 sodium vapour lights being used at night to illuminate the Khunti court campus.
He said that he has a plan to equip the judges’ bungalows, and other official residences which are guarded by security guards 24×7 so that they are not stolen away.
“The future of energy lies in solar power, he added, noting they’re better for the environment and cheaper per kilowatt hour too,” he signed off.
Khunti-1 : Acting Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court justice DN Patel alongwith other senior officials inspecting India’s first solar-powered court at Khunti.