MoU signed to setup mini-grids in rural areas

In a landmark development, Mon district administration, State government and Mithun Rural Development Foundation (MRDF) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly undertake an initiative to set up solar mini-grids in economically-constrained villages to deliver last-mile access to electricity.
MRDF is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) specifically designed to service electricity access needs of North-eastern States and is supported by organisations like Smart Power India (SPI), ONGC Ltd and NABARD. The goal of the initiative is to enable last-mile clean energy access, improve livelihoods, support women entrepreneurs and increase GDP of the State, while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
SPI will play an important role in supporting the entire programme framework and value chain, including design, delivery and facilitating financial and market linkages. The programme envisages to improve access, covering 1,000 villages in the next seven years. The first three mini-grids will be set up in February in the villages of Longkei, Totok Chingha and Chenwetnyu in Mon district.
The MoU aims to align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reduce carbon footprint while generating green jobs over the next 20 years. The initiative aims to encourage use of a clean energy platform to increase household incomes by 15-20% and for enterprises by 20% in the targeted villages. The highlight of the MoU is the strong support that the local administration has brought to the initiative.
For the first time, the setup of the mini-grids will aim to develop the community through an Integrated Village Development Programme involving all members of the community and not just the customers. The local administration will facilitate coordination between village councils/village development boards and MRDF.
The district administration will also assist MRDF by coordinating the efforts of various departments like health, education, renewable energy and rural development with the work in the villages.
Mon deputy commissioner Thavaseelan K said, “We fully support MRDF and SPI in their efforts to improve the living conditions of our people in the villages. These clusters are economically backward and decentralised renewable energy (DRE) mini-grid interventions will bring an all-round development to the region as they will integrate clean, high-quality and reliable energy with livelihoods, agriculture, health, education and public infrastructure. They will also help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 tons per village per annum, which is an encouraging milestone to achieve.”
Talking about the memorandum, SPI CEO Jaideep Mukherji and senior director Samit Mitra said they were glad to be a part of the joint initiative that aimed at sustainable socio-economic development through DRE. Stressing reduction of carbon footprint, they said this would require a collective effort from every level of the society.
They added that they looked forward to working with MRDF and the State government establish a solar PV-based mini-grid to encourage clean energy generation.
MRDF managing director Vijay Bhaskar said the association with the stakeholders was aimed at arriving at a sustainable and holistic model of rural economic development based on DRE mini-grids, which could be implemented and scaled to about 1,000 villages of Nagaland.
“We hope that communities can achieve holistic wellbeing as a result of the initiative,” he remarked. This was stated in a press release.