It’s evening in Bara, a small village in the Araria district of Bihar, a time where most people return from work and retire for the day. But it is not the same for Tamesh Sharma. For him, it is the most productive part of the day.
“Instead of using my hands, I’m using more machines. Instead of producing one item, I’m producing two. Where I had one employee, I now have two, and could expand to three.”
A carpenter by profession, Tamesh is busy preparing his small workshop for the next four hours of work where he makes furniture for people living in Bara and neighboring villages. He cuts wood into various shapes and sizes with a diesel-powered wood cutting machine, explaining that he used to purchase 15-20 liters of diesel every month at 800 rupees. Running the diesel machine was not only expensive for him but the diesel fumes and noise made running it for long durations very difficult.
Bara is yet to be connected to the government’s central grid, rendering evening time unproductive for people like him. “Electricity poles were installed a number of times in the village by the state electricity department,” recollects Tamesh, pointing at one across his house, “but the connection is yet to operationalize in the village.” Bara is not the only village that faces this problem, hundreds others also, as Bihar is one of the most underserved states in India receiving on average two-to-three hours of electricity, or none at all.
Tamesh is now purchasing electricity from a biomass power plant, operated by DESI Power and funded by The Rockefeller Foundation. The Smart Power in India initiative, launched in 2010 by the Foundation, aims to provide access to electricity, promote economic development, and improve quality of life for the rural poor.
He is a satisfied man today. He saves over 200 rupees every month from switching to electricity. “It’s made a difference. The quality of everything has improved. Instead of using my hands, I’m using more machines. Instead of producing one item, I’m producing two. Where I had one employee, I now have two, and could expand to three.”
Unlike some villages that have electricity from the central grid, this electricity is uninterrupted, making it easier for him to plan his work. Along with power to run the machines, he gets enough electricity for two-to-three light bulbs and a fan in his house for four hours every day. He is thrilled that his children are now able to study longer in the evening and that his family finally has access to basic comforts.