As many as 3,484 children from over 80 schools participated in the largest solar cooking initiative Suryakumbh, which has qualified as an entry to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The emergence of renewable sources of energy as an answer to the imminent exhaustion of conventional energy sources pushed a Bhayander NGO, Keshav Srushti, to start with the most influential members of society, children.
“We provided each child with his own solar cooker to assemble and, later, take home to share the knowledge with his family and friends. This activity will help them understand the importance of solar energy and also how it works,” said Satish Sinnarkar, vice-president of Keshav Srushti, who claims they got more applications than the number they had allotted for the activity.
The earlier record was set last year at Jalna in Maharashtra, where 2,200 students took part in a solar cooking session. They followed the parameters set by the Guinness committee, which had three witnesses monitoring the event. One of the parameters was the requirement of a digital counter to check the number of students and the other making it compulsory for the students to finish the food they cook. Each child got his own solar cooking kit with Maggi, vegetables and a cook time of 25 minutes.
The children were amazed by the construction and working of these solar cookers and were surprisingly well informed. “We’ve learned that solar energy is very important for us.
After all the other forms of energy get over, this will be the only medium we will be able to use. Even though cooking in this cooker took more time than usual, it was a lot of fun,” said 12-year-old Gaurav Bhatt of the Birla School in Kalyan.
The programme was attended by prominent nuclear scientist and former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India Dr Anil Kakodkar, who addressed the issue of high costs of renewable energy. “As people start using renewables extensively, the costs will gradually come down and stabilise. Solar, right now, works better for decentralised applications in agricultural and commercial use, especially in rural areas. Hence, they should be encouraged,” he said.