Go Green! Yerawada jail inmates get solar panels, cooking systems to reduce use of gas cylinders

May 24, 2018, 07:16 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

For the first time, women's section of the central prison gets solar panels and cooking system to reduce dependence on gas cylinders

The solar panels set up in the women's section on the premises of Yerawada Jail
The solar panels set up in the women's section on the premises of Yerawada Jail

Women inmates at Pune's Yerawada Central Jail are making the most of the blazing sun this season — India's first project of cooking with solar energy in a jail has been kick-started at the women's section. The central jail, which houses both male and female prisoners, has around 5,000 inmates and requires 18 gas cylinders daily for cooking and heating for all. The women's section uses three cylinders daily. Though biogas facility is available on the premises, the number of plants has come down from 25 to 18. And hence, the 289-odd women inmates along with 17 children have taken to the new solar cooking system, which has helped them to reduce their need for gas cylinders to just one daily.

Food for thought
The project was started 10 days back under Centre's Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission Scheme by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy with assistance from the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency. Solar panels have been placed behind the kitchen area, and a Nagpur-based company has provided the cooking system. Ten women inmates were trained how to use the facility. And now, everything from roti and sabzi to dal-chawal, and even boiling milk and water, is done as per the new system. Prison authorities, who were given R22.35 lakh for the project, have managed to set it all up in R16 lakh and plan to send the rest back to the ministry.

Pilot success
Prison Superintendent U T Pawar said, "It's been going great. At the moment, it's only in the women's section. Senior authorities will take a call on installing units elsewhere." "The women are happy, and their children, too, are learning about solar energy and getting first-hand experience," said Dnyaneshwar Kharat, senior jailer. Another staffer said, "There have been instances in the past where the women, while cooking, have tried to set themselves on fire. Thanks to this project, we have to spend less time monitoring them in the kitchen; and the inmates are learning new skills."

5,000
Approximate number of total inmates at Yerawada

Rs 22.35 lakh
Amount sanctioned for the project by the ministry

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