WWF-India and Woodland light up remote villages in Central India

Corporate Social responsibility no longer remains restricted to just removing a particular amount each year and contributing the same to a NGO or perhaps donating it to an organization. Things are changing. From adopting a small village to bringing up a school, each one is doing its bit in ways that are not only niche but also pretty much thoughtful. Recently we had WWF – India and Woodland joining hands to light up villages with renewable energy.

Woodland, the global adventure wear brand and supporter of WWF-India’s conservation initiatives, donated solar lanterns to over 120 households in 3 villages in WWF-India’s Central Indian Satpuda Maikal Landscape in Mandla District, Madhya Pradesh. This initiative was part of WWF-India’s Earth Hour campaign, which encouraged corporate organizations to go beyond the hour to combat climate change, by providing renewable energy solutions to villages without any access to electricity. The event was organized at the onset of the launch of WWF’s new global campaign which calls for increasing investments in renewable energy and will be launched under the slogan ‘Seize Your Power’.

This initiative to provide energy access to some of our darkest villages in the forest heartlands of Madhya Pradesh is also a way to project the possibility and worth of renewable energy in our country. Timed with WWF’s campaign, this one single activity is a symbolic call for better policies and public awareness towards renewable energy.

Patwahi, Chiklabadi and Bangla Dadar are small villages situated in the most remote parts of two wildlife corridors providing passage for wildlife to move between Kanha and the Pench Tiger Reserve, and Kanha and the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The solar lanterns will be the first form of energy the villagers will ever use, as they do not have any access to energy for lighting or cooking. They depend heavily on forest resources such as fuel wood for their energy needs, which brings them in constant conflict with wildlife in the forests, and sometimes results in the loss of human lives. Due to their distant location, access to electricity is nearly impossible, and standalone renewable energy powered systems are the only viable option for first time energy access.

Harkirat Singh, managing director, Woodland said, “In support of Earth Hour, we launched a collection drive in our stores, encouraging customers to donate towards lighting up villages using renewable energy. The idea received overwhelming response, Rs. 4 lakh in the month of March, and it is encouraging to see how a consumer-driven campaign has generated real benefit for the local communities. This has strong potential to be scaled up in the future. Providing these solar lanterns is the first step towards meeting the basic energy

demands of the village folk, thereby uplifting their lifestyles, as well as benefiting WWF-India’s conservation initiatives in this landscape. We hope these lanterns will help the communities live environment-friendly lives, away from dependence on kerosene and fuel wood, and encourage children to study, thereby securing a brighter future.”

In India, access to clean, sustainable and affordable energy for inhabitants of remote locations is fundamental for development, poverty eradication, stopping deforestation and combating the threats that are now being posed by climate change. Implementing renewable energy solutions for energy access is a step in the direction of meeting the balance between development and conservation initiatives.

Aarti Khosla, International Campaigner for WWF’s Climate and Energy Initiative said, “Lighting of villages using individual solar lighting systems directly points to the benefits and potential of renewable energy. With access to electricity a far dream for over 293 million people in the country, we believe that our dependence on coal, oil and gas is not the only way to secure energy. Renewable technologies based on solar and wind energy, and biomass are becoming increasingly competitive. We’d like to see them also become popular, so that people can make use of better options to obtain energy which will save costs in the long run and offer a cleaner environment. The initiative by Woodland is a genuine step in the direction of providing quick access to energy to communities in remote areas. It is a commitment under WWF’s Earth Hour campaign; as also for WWF’s global call to ask for more renewables, under the slogan of Seize Your Power.”

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