India gets nine months of sunshine a year but our countrymen hardly make the most of this valuable natural resource. However, one man from South Gujarat has been working for several years now to promote solar power and make its benefits available to many villagers and village institutions.
Meet Deepak Gadhia, a 70-year-old entrepreneur and staunch environmentalist who has toiled for years together to increase the usage of solar energy in the daily lives of people.
Through his company, Gadhia Solar Energy Systems Pvt Ltd (which has now been sold), he introduced solar power systems in Gujarat. Further, through International Centre for Networking, Ecology, Education and Re-integration (ICNEER), an NGO Gadhia had founded, Gadhia took the initiative of distributing solar cookers to villagers for free.
“A lot of firewood is used by villagers in India for cooking food and we realised that if solar energy is brought into these villages, we can save a lot of trees,” said Gadhia. “Working in this direction, we decided to distribute solar cookers to villagers for free,” he added.
Apart from distributing solar cookers, Gadhia installed the first (and at that time, the largest) solar cooking system in the world to cook food for 1,200 people at Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in Mount Abu. A similar system has been installed at the Tirupati temple that cooks 30,000 meals per day and at the Shirdi Sai Baba temple that cooks 50,000 meals per day.
However, in midst of this pioneering work, Gadhia suffered a personal loss last year when his wife and work partner, Shirin passed away. This shock was too much for him to bear and Gadhia sold off his company and now lives at Muni Seva Ashram in Waghodia in Vadodara.
However, Gadhia formed another company with the moniker, MSA Renewtech Foundation, which provides varied services that includes a 100-tonne solar air-conditioner plant that serves a 120-bed cancer hospital at Muni Seva Ashram. Other services include a desalination plant, waste water evaporation plant, process heating and cooking and incineration.
“Solar energy is the future of India and the country can grow only when its natural resources are properly utilised. It will definitely bring change in the energy requirements of the country,” stated Gadhia optimistically.