Sagar Island is also known as ‘Gangasagar’ in commoner’s parlance is one of the populous islands that fall under the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve at the State of West Bengal in India. Despite the age-old religious and cultural connotations, the island’s socio-economic growth was contained to a certain extent due to non-availability of Grid Electricity. Islanders had to depend primarily on energy supplied in an intermittent manner through solar photovoltaic cells, diesel generator sets, kerosene, and fuelwood. The Situation in Sagar Island had started changing dramatically from 2012 onwards with the rolling out of 100% Electrification programme under ICZMP. The intervention has been piloted by WBSEDCL.
ICZM Project has financed the stringing of 384 circuit km of HT line and 835.238 Circuit km LT line, erection of 30,466 Poles and installation of 595 distribution transformers. The extent of service improvement provided by WBSEDCL with regard to electrification is noted below:-
|Particulars||Before the Project*(2010)||Present Scenario(as on 31.03.2018)|
|No. of GPs electrified||5||9|
|No. of mouzas electrified||19||42|
|Total Service Connections||622||50312|
|No. of commercial consumers||415||4652|
|No. of industrial consumers||1||186|
|No. of Schools electrified||4||190|
|No. of Hospitals / Health Centers electrified / connected||1||4|
|No. of /water works electrified/connected||2||443|
Resonance of Grid Electricity shall be viewed in a kaleidoscopic manner as it turned out to be the harbinger for spurting of multiple socio-economic activities in Sagar Island.
Successful implementation of the Electrification programme has a direct impact on pollution containment. DG sets were employed previously by WBSEDCL for providing power in Sagar Island for a brief span of time before the initiation of the project. Annual consumption of diesel for running the DG sets was 210 KL and estimated 5,67,000 kg of Carbon dioxide was emitted to the atmosphere along with other harmful gases e.g. CH4, SO2, NOx. Hence with phasing out of DG sets and kerosene lamps environment has improved.
Healthcare facilities in Sagar Island also improved due to grid electricity with the creation of facilities like blood transfusion unit, pathological laboratories along with an introduction of several electric fed machines used for the treatment of patients. Enhanced quality had been achieved in the operative & invasive medical treatment of patients. Drug stores now have refrigerators which enhances drug inventory capacity of the Island.
Many of the schools have introduced computer education with the introduction of grid electricity. Senior students can now use physics laboratories equipped with electricity fed devices. Vocational training courses on mobile repairing also introduced in some schools in tandem with electrification. Classrooms are comfortable in summers with an introduction of electric fans. Students can study in the evening for a longer time with the aid of electric lights. Electric pump based water supply has contributed in augmentation of drinking water supply and sanitation condition in the schools.
Electric fed pumped water supply both are now available at the household level. Quality of life has improved with the introduction of household appliances like TV, Freeze, Air Condition machines etc. Women feel safe to travel in the evening with increasing span of street lighting in Sagar Island.
Electrification has also promoted SME sector as a number of small-scale grill factories, paddy husking units, extraction of flour from an oil processing units, handicrafts on conch shells etc are coming up. Marketplaces even in remote places of Sagar Island do continue their businesses even at the late evening hours.
Management of pilgrims during Ganga Saga Mela has become easier and efficient by way of provisioning of street lighting and improved public address systems.
Grid Electricity in Sagar Island has proved beyond doubt that it was not only a demand-driven project initiative whence it was conceived but in real terms, it is a game-changer that accelerates the pace of sustainable development with opening up of newer opportunities for enhancement of livelihood and quality of life.