Solan (HP): He dispels darkness through solar lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
“Eco-man” Gopal Dutt of Solan walks around everyday with a loudspeaker in his hands and CFLs and solar lamps in his bag to generate ecological awareness among the hill folk.
Gopal is not a marketing man of any CFL or solar lamp company. His messages are brief, crispy and clear.
Sample these: “Please make doors and windows of your house big enough to let sunlight enter. This helps saving electricity.”
“Don’t switch on the lights during the day.”
“Keep curtains of the room open to allow sunlight in.”
“Use CFLs and solar lamps to save power.”
Gopal’s daily routine is to trudge 20 to 30 km through six villages. Whenever he sees a house where he feels there is a need to drive home his eco notes, he stops and enlightens the people there.
“Your house needs bigger windows to get more natural light and air,” Gopal told a resident of Sanwara village, some 20 km from Solan, who is constructing a house. He told the man to install CFLs.
Further along, he advised a group of women outside a shop to go for CFLs in place of incandescent bulbs.
“You can save up to 80 percent energy and these (CFLs) last six times longer than the standard incandescent bulbs. This means a big saving in your monthly kitchen budget,” Gopal told the women.
“But these need safe and proper disposal as they contain a small amount of mercury,” he said, explaining when the CFL lights don’t function and need to be disposed of.
He also advocated the need for solar lamps. “These are totally environment-friendly,” he said, while showing a solar lantern.
“I have been doing this over five years and people are now more aware about environment,” he told.
For locals, Gopal is either a marketing man or a government employee. “Sometime people view me with suspicion. But that doesn’t matter to me. My aim is to sensitize them as the temperatures are rising and the hills are turning barren,” he added.
His campaign also gives him an opportunity to earn his livelihood. He doesn’t mind advertising products over his loudspeakers for shopkeepers.
“I am earning a little from selling CFLs and solar lanterns as these are not easily available in villages. But profit is not the sole motive,” he added.
To promote the use of CFLs, the Himachal Pradesh government had distributed these bulbs to 16.5 lakh households free of cost in 2008-09.
According to the government, this resulted in saving about 270 million units of power worth Rs.100 crore each year.
This month, the ministry of new and renewable energy sanctioned Rs.1.07 crore to the state government under the energy conservation scheme for distributing 4,337 solar lanterns in pastoral settlements in non-electrified villages.
By: Vishal Gulati (IANS)
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