The famous Sun Temple, constructed around 1026-27 CE during the reign of Bhima I of the Chaulukya dynasty, is located in Modhera village in Gujarat. But this is not the reason why this article is being written. Modhera is in the news for a different reason.
It has become India’s first solar village, a feat achieved by the Gujarat government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of an India powered by non-conventional energy sources.
There was a time when households in the village used to pay electricity bills of around Rs 1,500 a month. Today these bills have been reduced to almost zero as the village has surplus power which it feeds into the national grid.
In Goa, which has about the same intensity of sunlight as Modhera for nearly 300 days of the year, solar energy is on the back burner. Instead, we are cutting down forests to import power from the national grid.
This means we are drawing electricity generated in other parts of the country.
The solar energy target set for Goa by the Centre is 358 MW. The installed capacity is just 26.4 MW. In contrast, Karnataka, with whom we have a running feud over water, was given a target of 5,697 MW, and it surpassed this target by 2,200 MW.
Why is solar energy not up-and-front in policy decision-making? Can we not think beyond hotels, casinos and tourism?
Why is the construction of a hotel atop the new Zuari Bridge more important than figuring out ways to install solar panels on the bridge?
Truth be told, when it comes to smart and innovative solutions, Goa is a laggard. Seriously speaking, we cannot get traffic lights to function properly.
If a village in Gujarat could steal national and world attention (Modhera was featured on the website of the World Economic Forum) for a complete green solution, why can’t Goa do the same?
The late Manohar Parrikar has a legacy. He was the quintessential bridge builder for Goa and created infrastructure in record time to make Goa the permanent home of the international film festival.
Digamber Kamat gave Goa the first regional plan created with grassroots participation. Pratapsingh Rane made several contributions, but will always be remembered for the Chogm Road, which redefined transportation in Goa.
What legacy is Pramod Sawant creating for himself? How does he want to be remembered? Just as another chief minister, or a leader who made a lasting impact in Goa and India.
If you want to count on the national stage, you have to do something exceptional at the state level. Solar energy could be Sawant’s route to national fame.
Modhera’s solar miracle was built the hard way. It comprises a 6 MW ground-mounted plant, 1KW roof-top panels on 1,300 houses and a 15 MW battery storage system.
All this came at the cost of nearly Rs 78 crore, half of which was borne by the Centre.
Goa has 3.22 lakh households and if just one-third of these are convinced to mount roof-top solar systems, the state would be in a position to generate around 130 MW of power.
But for this to happen, the chief minister has to make it a mission.
He has to think and act like Prime Minister Modi, who is the force behind Gujarat’s solar energy transformation. As of June 30, 2021, Gujarat had roof-top solar systems on 2 lakh houses with a total capacity of 1.2 GW.
Is Pramod Sawant up to the challenge? Can he do for Goa what Modi did for Gujarat?