Solar experiments: Bird sanctuary, dargah go green

Jaipur: As Rajasthan experiments with solar energy, the famous bird sanctuary at Bharatpur and the dargah of Hazrat Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer are at the forefront of the state`s plans to turn `unconventional`.

As part of its plans to tap the solar energy option that is abundant in the state, solar plants have already been set up at the Ajmer dargah and measures are afoot to do the same at the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur.

Also on the list is the tourist hotspot Chittorgarh fort, one of the largest forts in Rajasthan.

Officials said that at the dargah in Ajmer a 20 KW plant has been installed to function at least for six hours when the sun is out in full force. The plant has been set up under a Central government demonstration project.

While providing power for lighting purposes inside the dargah, the plant also enables solar water heaters to function to provide hot water to devotees.
"We have installed solar water heaters of 500 litres and 1500 litres capacity to heat the water used by devotees to perform their pre-namaz ablutions. Earlier wood and electric heaters were used for the purpose," said R R Chowdhry, an official of the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Limited, the state`s nodal agency for promoting and developing non-conventional energy.

At the Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur, a World Heritage Site, the authority is setting up plants to equip pumps and tubewells to function with solar energy.

"The ponds at the park need to be kept filled with water for birds to remain there. The tubewells and pumps used to pull water to the ponds are being turned solar," he said.

Besides, an 8 KW plant has also been installed to make the office and the museum at the sanctuary solar sufficient.

This includes the computers at the sanctuary`s office and the water heaters, that will now draw energy from the sun.

The Rs 1 crore Bharatpur project is expected to be implemented by October this year. A portion of the power needed at the sanctuary will come from renewable source, though conventional sources will continue to be used.

The bird sanctuary hosts thousands of rare species of birds including the Siberian Crane, and over 230 birds have made the park their home.

"Solar lights are also being installed at centres where the guards stay. We have also given them three battery operated cars to take tourists around the park," the official said.

At Chittorgarh, a major tourist destination of the state, an 8 KW plant will supply power to some sections of the fort.

Solar energy will be used to generate power to illuminate the two main towers of the fort — the Vijay Stambh and the Kirti Stambh.

"It will also supply power to light up the street lights at the fort," Chowdhry said. Rajasthan government has drawn up a solar energy policy to promote the use of the energy from the sun as an alternate source of power. The policy was cleared by the cabinet earlier this month.