With a Mumbai-based group offering to donate a solar-powered steam cooking system, Golden Temple’s Guru Ram Das Langar Hall, known as the biggest community kitchen in the world, will be in the company of three other shrines — Shirdi (Maharashtra), Mount Abu (Rajasthan) and Tirupathi (Andhra Pradesh) — that already have similar systems.
This will be the second eco-friendly move of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which is responsible for handling the shrine, after it introduced the concept of ‘organic langar’ prepared with grains and vegetables grown without chemicals.
Here are some key questions answered about the new system:
Who will give the system?
Mumbai-based Enpar Group, which has been working on generation of renewable energy, is into electricity from agriculture residue. But it has now planned to introduce solar-powered cooking system. Before putting it out into the market, it is donating its first system worth Rs 1.5 crore to Golden Temple. In three months, it will start installing the system will take nearly six months to completion.
What’s the government’s role?
The Mumbai group has offered to donate the system through Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), which is the state nodal body set up for promotion of renewable energy and conservation programmes. It has helped the project in getting 30% subsidy from the Union ministry of new and renewable Energy.
How will food be prepared with solar energy?
The system will be installed on 18,000 square feet on the rooftop of the new buildings of Guru Ram Das Langar Hall. The heat produced by solar energy will boil water in installed boilers. Steam to be generated in these boilers will be circulated through pipes to special vessels to be used for cooking food. Eight vessels of capacity of two and half quintal food each at a time will be installed on every floor of the building. A jacket containing the steam will be tied around the vessels and provide heat for the cooking.
After dark or in cloudy weather or rainy days, when solar system will not work, there will be the option of connecting the boilers with LPG supply. In this case too, the food will be prepared with steam.
How will solar system reduce consumption of LPG and firewood?
An average of 100 LPG cylinders and around 50 quintals of firewood are consumed daily at the community kitchen. These days devotees are visiting the shrine in larger number due to summer vacations, which has increased consumption. PEDA officials say the solar-powered cooking system will cut the consumption by half. The consumption of traditional fuel can be reduced further, say experts, but the SGPC does not want to make the system too mechanised as manual labour is part of the ‘sewa’ (religious service) by devotees. For instance, three chapati-making machines are installed in the kitchen, but the traditional method continues so that devotees can do carry out the service.
Does any other gurdwara have such a system?
Similar systems have been set up at a gurdwara in Solkhian in Kharar (SAS Nagar) and Gurdwara Rara Sahib in Ludhiana, these are on a smaller scale. Also, the SGPC has already introduced a system at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj, a shrine near the Golden Temple, in which food is prepared with steam, but that’s not generated by solar energy. A similar system is installed at Gurdwara Tapiana Sahib in Khadoor Sahib (Tarn Taran).