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Solar museum on the blink

Solar museum on the blink


Ranchi: Jharkhand’s first solar museum, set up in a park in the capital’s VIP area six years back at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore crore, lies abandoned these days since none of its key stakeholders, Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA) and the forest department, is ready to maintain it.

The idea behind setting up the facility was to promote the use of solar energy by offering a walk-in experience to visitors who could see how the sun’s energy was being used to light up the Sidho Kanho Park at Morabadi, home to the chief minister’s residence and Raj Bhavan. The plan looked good on paper. But in reality, the museum is a picture of neglect and apathy, another example of a good idea gone to seed.

” Andar sab kabadi hai. (Inside, everything is junk),” said a security guard, who admitted he couldn’t remember the last time when the gates to the museum were opened to the public.

The facility has a rooftop battery bank that is meant to power a 225sqm exhibition hall with a touch-screen energy encyclopedia, a smokeless chullah, a pressure cooker, tractor and hand pump among others. Other attractions include two solar-powered trains, three cycles and a jeep. All of these have been lying defunct for long.

“One of the trains has been permanently grounded while the other one hasn’t been running since a week. Its main socket (solar panel) is not working. A local electrician has created an alternate connection through a different power source, but the cables often get snapped,” said a caretaker.

Vishal Anand, an engineer belonging to JREDA that has funded the project, blamed the firm contracted to undertake regular maintenance. “Tata Solar doesn’t take an interest. A decision has to be taken at the senior level on whether to continue with the company or not,” he said, adding that he had joined JREDA only a few months ago.

JREDA director Arvind Kumar conceded the problem was with maintenance and that the issue had become complicated as the park where the museum had been set up belonged to the forest department.

“The state forest department isn’t ready to guarantee the safety of our equipment. Although we have four to five Home Guard jawans, visitors’ entry and exit is regulated by the forest department. Early morning entry is free for morning walkers,” he said.

Kumar said that in the past, they had spent a lot of money on repairs, but that did not help. “A year ago, we wrote to the forest department to ensure the safety of our equipment, but we did not receive a response. Both departments will have to sort out the issues if the museum is to function,” he added.

A senior official in the forest department (Ranchi division) said their job was limited to looking after the park. “We don’t have expertise in solar power. Already, maintaining the park is an issue,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Source: telegraphindia
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network


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