To ensure round-the-clock electricity at remotely located SC, ST ashram schools, the state government has decided to install solar photovoltaic systems at 147 such schools by this year, sources said Monday.
According to sources at the science and technology department, the state-own Orissa Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) is executing the projects. The agency has set a target to connect 500 hostels and 500 tribal villages and habitations with solar energy over a period of four years.
The state government has so far identified 275 such schools to connect with solar energy of which 68 have been electrified in 2014-15 fiscal. Electrification at 60 other schools was completed in the last financial year.
Installation of solar systems at 147 ashram schools is in progress for which work orders were issued last December, an official said, adding, all the projects would be completed very soon.
Of the total cost of `16.27 crore sanctioned for 2014-15 fiscal, the Union ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) had released `3.25 crore while SC/ST development department has sanctioned the remaining amount.
Similarly, the Centre had released `3.24 crore and the state government had spent `12.86 crore for electrification of 60 schools in 2015-16.
The estimated cost of electrification of 147 SC/ST ashram schools is `33.29 crore of which the SC/ST development department would provide `25.33 crore and the remaining `7.95 crore would be given by MNRE, the official said.
For electrification of 239 villages and hamlets, the science and technology department has released `4.51 crore against the estimated cost of `9.17 crore. The balance amount will be released soon, the sources said.
Since the number of residential schools in remote, un-served and under-served areas is very large, the government has decided to explore sources of funding such as mineral area development fund, energy conservation fund and corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds, they said.
The state government has also decided to connect all schools, hospitals, hostels, irrigation projects, drinking water supply projects, panchayati raj institutions in un-served areas through solar energy. The S&T department in consultation with the department concerned would prepare a two-year action plan in this regard, they added.