The Roshan Sindh Programme aims to setup 20,000 lights in five divisions by June 2016
The Sindh government is going to install solar lights within the jurisdictions of the municipal and town committees of rural areas in the province.
A total of 20,000 solar lights, with an estimated cost of Rs4 billion, will be installed by June 2016 under the ‘Roshan Sindh Programme’. Officials privy to the development termed it a ‘highly expensive’ project, which can cost Rs0.2 million per electric bulb.
The project was conceived by the then minister for local government, rural development and public health, Sharjeel Inam Memon. Official sources said that the government had initially allocated around Rs800 million as the operational and maintenance cost of this project per year, but the planning and development department objected to it. After that, the government slashed the cost to Rs500 million.
The summary of the project, available with The Express Tribune, reveals that 4,000 solar lights costing Rs900 million will be installed in Hyderabad division, 3,500 lights costing Rs800 million in Mirpurkhas division, 1,000 lights costing Rs210 million in municipal and towns committees of Karachi, 3,500 lights costing 727 million in Benazirabad division, 4,000 lights costing Rs836 million in Sukkur division and 4,000 solar lights worth Rs770 million will be installed in Larkana division.
According to a notification issued by the rural development department, eight companies have been deemed qualified to install the solar lights in five divisions of the province. The government has already released Rs250 million for this project.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Mukesh Kumar Chawla, minister for the rural development and public health engineering department, termed it an extraordinary project that will bring change in rural areas where people suffer from hours-long power breakdowns. “We will install an electric pole with 100-watt electric bulbs with a chargeable battery. It will include a solar-charged controller with an automated on-and-off option. This will not be a huge cost as compared to the facility being provided to the people,” he said.
When the minister’s attention was diverted toward the Rs500 million per year operational cost and the planning and development department’s reservations over it, he said, “the planning and development department has not objected to it.” Initially, the private companies will maintain all solar lights in their jurisdiction, at least for three years. After that the relevant town municipal administrations will take over the responsibility to maintain this project, he said, adding that he has recently taken over the charge of this department and therefore he has no idea how many funds will be allocated in the future.
Chawla said only the rural areas of Karachi that fall in Malir and district West will be covered in this programme. He said that the work on this project has been started by his ministry will be completed by June 2016.
Sources in the Sindh government said that the officials of the planning and development department had also suggested the use of WAPDA’s electric poles in order to decrease the cost of the project but the rural development department refused. As per the MoU, the private companies installing the solar lights will maintain the system for three years, after that the government may appoint technicians in TMAs to look after the system.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2015.