Let There Be Light!

Immediate Past President of Rotary Club Panaji Riviera, Ryan Costa, speaks about the Club’s
recent project, that saw a remote village in Keri lit up with solar-powered electricity

Village of Keri

Keri, a very remote village consisting of 15 households, is situated on the borders of Goa and Karnataka. It falls in the middle of the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, a beautiful village in the heart of nature, approximately 500 meters above sea level. The village closest to Keri village is Nadkem, which is a two hours trek and can only be reached on foot. The people of this village seem to live a fairytale life surrounded by nature, wildlife, and lush greenery, but the connection to and outside the town is relatively poor. They have weak mobile signals from across the Karnataka border, and the village itself is not connected to the electrical grid. The only source of light is through old solar panels and solar systems that have been used for around ten years now. Due to heavy rainfall and other climatic conditions, these solar devices would barely last for half an hour past sundown.

Ryan Costa

Rotary Club Panaji Riviera helped these people by lighting up 15 houses in Keri Village, “I was looking for ideas for projects to implement before my year started. One of the things that I was looking at was to help out any remote village community. I came across an article on electricity not being available for many homes around Goa. I did a little digging into this issue and came across data from the electricity department indicating houses and their locations which have yet to be connected to the electrical grid. Based on that data, I picked the biggest clusters, and this ultimately led us to Keri Village,” he said. It was an experience to remember. The beautiful trek up the hill, eating simple but delicious food with the villagers, and experiencing their happiness once the project was completed are a few things Ryan will always hold close to his heart.

A big challenge that arose was transportation. The climb to Keri village is a steep uphill journey with multiple streams that must be crossed along the way. The equipment consisted of two solar panels, an inverter, and one battery for each household which was carried with the help of the villagers themselves. With the trek itself being so intense, taking such heavy and delicate equipment was quite tricky, along with the heavy rainfall.

The team from the Company ‘Agrawal Renewable Energy Pvt Ltd.’ who supplied all the components, spent five days up at Keri Village and installed all the systems. Each household has been provided with a system to support 5 LED bulbs, one ceiling fan, and a power-point that could power a television for about 2 hours every day. The same power-point could also be used to charge a mobile and run a food grinding mixer for about 5 minutes in a day. While interacting with the women from the village, they communicated their issues about the long hours they spent in the kitchen, giving them less time to follow their jobs and interests. Listening to this, the members of the Rotary Club gave each of the households a Philips Mixer- Grinder, a gesture that the women of the village quite appreciated. They are also looking at giving each home a television set to keep them entertained and connected to the outside world. Ryan concluded by saying, “I would not say that it is something new, but it has increased my interest in trying to be helpful to those who at least materially have less than us.”

Along with the Rotary Club of Panaji Riviera, Ryan is very grateful to Dr. Gautam Daftary of Vallabh Welfare Foundation, Mumbai, who was very generous to sponsor the cost of this entire project. And at the request of Dr. Daftary, the project has been dedicated to the memory of Late Peter Vaz, who was part of the Riviera family.

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