Saturday 20 Jul 2024

Margao’s solar power dreams come a cropper

Failure to launch, maintain Landmark projects mars track record to promote use of renewable energy

The Goan Network | SEPTEMBER 19, 2023, 01:11 AM IST


The solar energy bug seemed to have caught everyone, right from governments to local grass-root bodies, from politicians to NGOs working in the field of renewable energy.

If Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled ambitious plans to generate 1600 megawatt of power through solar energy by 2030, Goa’s Power Minister Ramkrishna Dhavlikar has not lagged behind in taking the renewable energy sector forward. Dhavlikar has promised to set up solar villages across the State within the next one year to increase the use of solar energy in Goa.

Welcome to the commercial capital, where visitors come across solar panels dotting the iconic Margao Municipal garden and the frontage of the heritage Municipal garden with the solar-powered lamps hanging precariously due to lack of maintenance.

That’s not all. The fate of the non-conventional energy park proposed at the entrance to the commercial capital near the district court building at the Old Market remains unknown. The park was to be located near the district court building at the Old Market, but neither a solar energy park nor any other project has seen light of the day on the acquired land till date.

Can anyone throw light on these defunct solar lamps at Margao?

MARGAO: Launched with much fanfare in 2010 by the Margao Municipal Council headed by then Chairperson Savio Coutinho, the solar-powered lamps attracted the attention Madgavkars, Saxttikars and visitors to the commercial capital. Soon, the 50 solar-powered lamps installed at an estimated cost of around Rs 6 lakh became an attraction for the citizens, before the project fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance.

Sadly, it’s now over 10 years since the solar powered lamps became defunct for want of maintenance, but the lamps and panel fitted on poles continue to dot around the Municipal garden and the frontage of the Municipal building.

A couple of lamps are hanging dangerously in front of the Municipal building, posing danger to pedestrians, including municipal employees and city officials. The moot question, however, remains unanswered: why are the solar lamps and panels standing tall in the Municipal garden and at the front of the Municipal garden when they have been lying defunct for over a decade now?

Why the project executed jointly by the Margao Municipal Council (MMC) and the Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA) remains in a state of disrepair for reasons that are unclear. For, successive Margao Municipal Councils post-2010 have neither bothered to revive the project nor have taken the decision to dismantle the lamps and solar panels till date.

Margao MLA Digambar Kamat, who is controlling the BJP-ruled Margao Municipal Council, said he would find out from the municipality the status of the solar lights in the MMC garden. He, however, hastened to add that he has made plans to install solar power in city schools with the assistance of Power Minister Ramkrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavlikar.

Is Goa Renewable Energy Edu Park a lost cause?

MARGAO: What is the status of the Goa Renewable Energy Education Park proposed at the Old Market in 2010?

After the government acquired the land in 2007, the Congress government headed by then Chief Minister Digambar Kamat laid the foundation stone for the energy park at the Old Market, meters away from the district courthouse. Kamat even announced that the Rs 2.25 crore project would be completed in 2010. He also promised to set up a mall at the site for self-help groups to showcase their products and market their home-made items.

The central government allocated Rs 1 crore to fund the project, with the state government agreeing to provide the remaining funds.

The park was scheduled to have indoor exhibits, a solar hut, a solar car track, and other items.

After the change in government in 2012, when the BJP returned to power, the project hit a block for five long years. In 2017, Goa Forward Party leader Vijai Sardesai, who was a minister in the Manohar Parrikar government, scrapped the energy park and proposed a town hall and a cycle velodrome at the site.

Things returned to square one in 2019 after Goa Forward Party leader Vijai Sardesai left the Pramod Sawant government.

Margao MLA Digambar Kamat recalled that his government proposed the renewable energy park, but the project was never completed because the next government did not want him to get credit for bringing it to the city.

Will Digambar, Vijai clash over use of GREEP land?

MARGAO: Will friends turned arch-rivals Margao MLA Digambar Kamat and GFP leader and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai cross swords over the utilization of the prime land acquired for the now defunct Goa Renewable Energy Education Park (GREEP) at the Old Market?

After returning to power about a year ago, after switching sides from the Congress to the BJP, Kamat said he would discuss with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant how to set up a project on the land acquired at the Old Market for the renewable energy park.

Goa Forward Party leader and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai, however, cautioned the government, warning that people would oppose any attempt to bulldoze any project on the prime land.

Goa Forward Party leader and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai said that the land is presently in possession of the South Goa Planning and Development Authority (SGPDA) after he had it transferred from the renewable energy park to the Planning body during his term as TCP Minister.

He added: “The acquired land in question for the renewable energy project falls in Fatorda constituency...We would like to have a project on the land that benefits the people of Fatorda.”

Margao MLA pointed out that since the land in question was acquired for the renewable energy park during his tenure as the CM and since the project has not seen light of the day, he would discuss with the CM Sawant how to set up a public utility project on the land.

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