As part of World Environment Day, hosted by India for the first time, the country held its fourth TV Greenathon to raise funds for fitting solar power systems to villages where there is no electricity, bringing modern facilities to help communities gain the benefits of the technologies, such as electric lighting, that we take for granted.
The Greenathon started at 7pm on Sat 4th June and was transmitted live continuously until 7:00pm on 5th June. The Greenathon is sponsored by Toyota and broadcast by India's NDTV company and was viewed all over the world.
During the show pledges and donations piled up to support the projects and Indian celebrities like model and film star Priyanka Chopra joined in to increase the amount raised. So far the latest telethon has raised over $357,541.90 with money still coming in.
Dr Prannoy Roy, Chairman NDTV Group said "I have been overwhelmed by the amazing response this year. NDTV's Greenathon seems to have caught the imagination of people across India and mostly among the youth. It's really very warm and encouraging."
Greenathon 1 adopted 56 villages in 2009 and Greenathon 2 adopted 111 villages in 2010 that were without electricity. Solar recharging stations were set up and village personnel trained to maintain the solar lamps that are issued to village households, to light their lives, as part of Nobel prize-winning climate scientist Dr RK Pachauri's The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) initiative to 'Light a Billion Lives'. This year over 580 villages have been adopted and will have solar power installed. Villages located all over India are to be the beneficiaries of this environmental project.
NDTV's presenter Vikram Chandra and Indian film star Priyanka Chopra at Manawas in Rajasthan - a village now lit up by solar poweretadshow468 -->
TERI selects a village in areas which do not currently have access to electricity. The solar lamps often replace kerosene ones, which cause health problems with their fumes and which also blow out in storms.
Children have benefited from solar lamps as they can study in the evening, and all of them reported an increase of 25-30 % in their grades. Women can cook meals by lamplight instead of during daylight hours, and the lamps help men to patrol and guard their fields at night. In other words there has been a step change in their lives with the introduction of solar light.
India has a long way to go to become fully developed, but it is showing how it is possible to leapfrog old polluting power technologies and move directly into advanced electricity generation using low-carbon renewables.
Photos courtesy of NDTV. Link: Greenathon.