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Million Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL) Program

Workshop on Completion of Million Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL) Program


IIT Bombay had organized a workshop on successful completion of ‘Million Solar Urja Lamp [SoUL] Program’ on 2nd July 2016 at IIT Bombay. Hon. Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy, Shri. Piyush Goyal, graced the occasion as a chief guest and made ‘proclamation of program completion’.  He also announced the scaling up of the program to 10 crore students across country. He said “my ministry will provide the required financial support of Rs. 1800 Crore for this mission”. Director, IIT Bombay, Professor Devang Khakhar said, “The Million Solar Project is the largest implementation project taken up in IIT Bombay, which has directly benefitted 1 million rural school children. We are proud of the achievement of Prof. Chetan Solanki and his entire team and are grateful for the help of sponsors of the project. Prof. Solanki from Department of Energy Science and Engineering, who is heading this program, said that “We at IIT Bombay have always been a strong advocate for ‘Right to Light’. We should ensure every school going students should get sufficient light for study purpose, which can easily be provided with Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL)”. He further added that, “there are about 10 crore students in the country who belong to tribal blocks, high kerosene consumption blocks and educationally backwards blocks who would be benefited from solar lamp program”.

Shri.  Piyush Goyal, during his visit to the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay on Saturday, lauded the efforts of the Institute to successfully complete the Million Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL) Program within record time. He also appreciated the efforts of village people who assembled and distributed the lamps saying, “You have not only done assembly of lamp, but you have done good service to the nation”. The large-scale solar study lamp programme addressed the issues of scale, speed and skill. Hon. Minster appreciated the design, strategy and outcomes of the program. He said, “This program has lit the soul of every person. The million SoUL program of IIT Bombay incorporated Speed, Scale and Skill, the three tenets of my government”. Million SoUL Program focused on the ‘localization of solar energy’ in consonance with Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India’.

“The programme was implemented in 2014-16 with financial support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Resources (MNRE), Government of India and other philanthropic partners like Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and corporate like Idea Cellular Pvt. Ltd. The program has integrated IIT Bombay’s technical expertise in solar lamp technology, operations, evaluation and impact analysis”, said Prof. Solanki from Department of Energy Science and Engineering.

One million solar study lamps were distributed through this ambitious program conceptualized and implemented by IIT Bombay. For dissemination to rural school going children IIT Bombay partnered with NGOs having presence at grassroots level. This program covered 23 districts, 97 sub-districts (blocks) and 10,900+ villages in states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Orissa. The objective of this program was to provide clean light for study purposes to rural school-going children in the fastest possible way, and in most cost-effective manner. The unique aspect of this program was the model of ‘localization’ in which solar study lamps were assembled, distributed, used and repaired by rural people. In order to achieve scale, the model was designed in such a way that it could be replicated in parallel in multiple blocks, across districts and states through network of NGOs and with schools as a platform for dissemination. For achieving speed, the assembly and distribution for any block was designed to be completed in 90 days. To target skill development, rural people were trained to assemble, distribute and repair the lamps. There were 54 assembly and distribution centres and 350 Service Repair Centres in operation with 1,409 trained manpower. It was committed to reach the most marginalized communities with its presence in 77% tribal blocks and 83% educationally backward blocks . Prof. N. C. Narayanan from Center for Technology Alternatives in Rural Areas and Prof. Jayendran V. from Industrial Engineering and Operation Research are also fully involved in the program planning and execution.

During the workshop, Mr. Indrajeet Singh, Collector for Chittaurgarh district, Rajasthan, ratifying the outcomes of the Million SoUL Program and shared the initiative of bringing-in women self help groups (SHG) when he was the Collector of Dungarpur district (Rajasthan), a backward district with predominantly tribal population. In this initiative, IIT Bombay has formed a partnership with Rajeevika’s (Rajasthan Grameen Ajeevika Vikas Parishad) women federations to disseminate solar study lamps to students and their mothers. The women SHG members, who are poor tribal women from villages, have become solar entrepreneurs and are working as assemblers, distributors (of solar study lamp & other solar products), service providers, and managers of the program.

Prof. B. G. Fernandes, from Department of Electrical Engineering and Principle Investigator of National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education (NCPRE) in IIT Bombay made presentation about centre’s work and future plan.

During this event a poster exhibition was put up to present the journey of Million SoUL Program. The exhibition included clusters of posters on: Why (need for the program), what is the program (concept and model), how (implementation process), where (location), timeline, voices from the field, evaluation and pathways ahead. There was a stall in this exhibit in which women assemblers from Dungarpur block in Rajasthan gave live demo of lamp assembly.

The workshop was attended by IIT Bombay faculty, school students from Assam and Sikkim who had come for the visit in IIT Bombay and various program stakeholders like student beneficiaries, service repair centre managers, assemblers, distributors, women involved in Dungarpur initiative, representatives from partner NGOs, funders and vendors.

For further information on MSP, please visit the website:    

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