Agartala to be India’s first solar city

The minister said 700 hamlets and 50 villages in remote areas in the northeastern state have already been provided solar energy, benefiting more than 35,000 families, mostly tribals.

To reduce dependency on conventional energy, the Tripura government Wednesday announced ambitious plans to make Agartala a ‘solar city’, replacing at least 10 percent of usual power use by solar energy.

“Agartala city would be the first ‘solar city’ in northeast India within the next few years,” Tripura’s Urban Development Minister Manik Dey said after inaugurating a 50 kilowatt solar power plant at the Agartala Municipal Council head office here.

He said: “Solar power is the sustainable and viable energy for both cities and remote areas. Electricity crisis would not be solved in the country unless we use non-conventional energy like solar power in a big way.”

An official of the Agartala Municipal Council said a master plan of Rs.452.32 crore has been undertaken to make Agartala a ‘solar city’. The union ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) would bear 90 percent of the cost and the remaining would be borne by the Tripura government.

As part of the master plan, solar hot water systems would be installed in all hotels, nursing homes, school hostels, government circuit houses and bungalows, hospitals and health centres, tourist lodges, temples and the governor’s residence.

According to the official, the Agartala solar city project is part of MNRE’s plan to turn 60 Indian cities into solar cities.

“The Tripura Renewable Energy Development Authority (TREDA) and urban development department, in association with MNRE, would implement the ambitious scheme,” the official added.

The city’s street lights and other lights in public places would also be operated on solar energy.

“Theft of battery and solar panel is a major problem facing the authorities in implementing the solar electrification programme,” Tripura’s Science, Technology and Environment Minister Joy Gobinda Debroy said.

“Solar energy would also be provided to hundreds of more remote villages in the state under the remote village electrification (RVE) scheme during the current financial year,” the minister said.

According to Debroy, through the TREDA, 80,000 solar lanterns have been distributed among poor people residing in urban as well as rural areas in Tripura. Over 66,000 small and medium hot water plants have been installed across Tripura.

“To popularise ‘solar energy’, lakhs of specially-designed ‘solar caps’ and ‘solar torches’ would be distributed among students in the state,” he stated.

Of India’s 60 proposed solar cities, eight cities have been identified in the northeastern region by MNRE.

The cities include Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, Agartala in Tripura, Guwahati and Jorhat in Assam, Aizawl in Mizoram, Imphal in Manipur and Kohima and Dimapur in Nagaland.