Apr 2, 2012
Solar lights illuminate Butwal streets
These days Butwal’s main market area is illuminated with 48 solar lights. The market is witnessing longer business hours. The local businessmen say, “Earlier we had to shut down our shops quite early in the evening due to load-shedding (power-cuts) but now we can carry our business till late. Most importantly, we are facing less security issues.”
With the promotion of this alternative energy through public private partnership, the local economy is booming and the initiative has also become a model technology for other cities to replicate.
Butwal municipality is the main implementing agency that has sole authority over the project monitoring and supervision along with significant investment.
UNDP’s Public Private Partnership for Urban Environment (PPPUE) project assisted the municipality in project development, partnership arrangement and seed grant provision. Apart from this, the private partner shares in the investment and is responsible for operation and maintenance.
As a follow-up, after about five months of operation and test running, the private operator in the Butwal Street Light Project is implementing a systematic upgrade to the system to provide better lighting in close coordination with the municipality and the users committee. The upgrading is required because of the low sunlight levels during winters in the terai region (low lands).
At the same time the beneficiaries or the communities and users are investing as well as providing operational support. A similar project at a lower scale is being replicated in the neighbouring Siddhartha Nagar municipality using the lessons learned from Butwal experience. The municipal office there has already started the procurement process of a private operator for the project.
Also, an upstream impact is already seen where the central government through the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) has committed funds to solar street lighting as a national priority. As a result a feasibility study has been completed through AEPC for street lighting of the whole Butwal city.