Solar street lights at the Sundarbans to prevent man wild conflict

It is a good news for around 4516 households in the Sundarbans as they are set to enjoy the brighter evening from now onwards.  Directorate of Forest, South 24 Pargana have Joined  hands with  Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage and TCG foundation to install 25  solar street lights  across 5 villages in Kultali range . These solar lights also would save lives of villagers from man wild conflict.

The project is a public private partnership one. Directorate of Forest has given the mandate to KSCH, a social enterprise. The solar street lights will be installed by Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage whereas the TCG foundation has come forward with the requisite funds.

Around 4,136 families of Bhubaneshwari, Debipur, Modhho Gurguria, Purba Gurguria and Deulbari, Chituri Forest in Kultali range in the Sundarbans are beneficiaries of the proposed street lights. They are the victims of frequent snake bites as these villages are adjacent to the core area of the Sundarbans. The villagers stumble upon poisonous snakes in darkness leading to death or serious injury on a regular basis. Kultali range falls under the jurisdiction of the Directorate Forest, South 24 Parganas Division, Govt. of West Bengal. Nearby hospital is 36 km away.

“As we all know that the Sundarbans are biosphere lands and people living here are exposed to nature. Human and wild conflict is one of the major concerns of the forest department in the Sundarbans. Roads are developed with bricks and electricity has been a rarity here. Snake bites are being the common problems in Sundarbans area. Common kraits and Cobras are making the prime damages for the local people. Mortality rate (65%) is very high for snake bite cases. Even Tigers strayed out of the core areas twice in the last five years. So Solar lights are the only solution of this concern here”, said Milan Mandal, DFO, 24 Parganas, South Division.

“To cover the major parts of the villages we installed 25 solar street lights. By doing this project we also promoted the renewable green energy and reduce carbon footprint. These poles will generate 182.5 kilowatt renewable electricity every year. Street lights will help to distract the tigers as well. I really thank KSCH & TCG Foundation for this project”, said Milan Mandal.

“We at Kolkata Society For Cultural Heritage has been working in the Sundarbans for the last 15 years in different projects ranging from mangrove plantation, women empowerment, vocational skill development and livelihood development with the forest department. Main occupations of the villagers are fishing, honey collection from forest, rikshaw and van pulling with average family income of Rs 8000 to Rs 6000 in a month. This solar lighting will provide them lighting for an uninterrupted period throughout the night and will benefit a great deal. The villagers even rarely get 4 hours of electricity uninterruptedly. Forest Department has identified the specific locations where we installed the Poles. Forest department also has formed communities among villagers to monitor the poles and maintain the solar panels.  KSCH will provide capacity building training shortly”, said Sourav Mukherjee, Founder Director, Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage.

Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage, (KSCH) has recently been honoured with the United Nation’s ECOSOC consultative status which is a rare feat for NGOs across the world. The project follows the UNSDGs like, SDG 7: affordable and clean energy, SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities, SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production, SDG 13: Climate Action, SDG 15: Life on land and SDG 17: partnerships for the goal.

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