BHOPAL: In a remarkable leap from its ancient origins dating back to the 3rd century BCE, the quaint town of Sanchi, nestled in Madhya Pradesh, is poised to make a resounding 21st-century statement. Home to the iconic stupa commissioned during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, this town of 9,000 souls is now on the cusp of becoming India’s inaugural ‘solar city.’
Amidst its historical treasures, Sanchi is embracing a sustainable future with the inauguration of a 3 MW solar power plant tailored for household and commercial needs, while another 5 MW capacity plant dedicated to agriculture is in the works.
Sanchi’s strategic location along the Tropic of Cancer positions it ideally to harness the potent energy of the sun. Yet, this geographical advantage wouldn’t have borne fruit without ingenious engineering solutions.
The 3 MW solar facility is ingeniously nestled near the UNESCO World Heritage site, occupying a 5-hectare expanse. What sets this solar installation apart is its unique configuration – the solar panels artfully cascade along the contours of a hill, forming a cone-like structure. According to Srikant Deshmukh, the superintending engineer of MP Urja Vikas Nigam, such an architectural marvel is yet to be witnessed in the realm of solar power plants.
In a country where the pursuit of green energy is predominantly reliant on government funding, Sanchi’s journey toward solar transformation is a standout. The driving force behind this initiative is the Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation, a joint venture between the Madhya Pradesh government and NHPC. They are set to vend the generated power at a competitive rate of Rs 3.6 per unit to the MP Power Management Company Ltd, which functions as the holding company for three state distribution companies. It’s worth noting that all essential equipment, including solar lights, has been procured through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contributions from private companies.
Sanchi’s solar ambitions extend beyond its existing infrastructure. Plans are underway to equip every household with energy-efficient fans and lighting systems. Approximately 2,000 students will be bestowed with solar-powered lights, while street vendors are poised to receive solar lanterns. Even the town’s streetlights and municipal water pumps are slated to transition to solar power sources.
In a promising vision of the future, Sanchi is poised to become a town that runs primarily on the inexhaustible power of the sun. This transformative journey from ancient history to a green-powered future is not only commendable but also serves as an inspirational blueprint for sustainable urban development across the nation.
As Sanchi strides toward its destiny as India’s premier ‘solar city,’ it demonstrates the potential of sustainable energy solutions to marry ancient history with a vibrant future. With innovative engineering and public-private cooperation, this historic town is setting an example for the nation, proving that progress and preservation can coexist harmoniously.