In an effort to bring the two nations closer, India’s The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)--in collaboration with LEAD Pakistan, the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) Pakistan and the Buksh Foundation—will be organising a series of events to mark the launch of the “Lighting a Million Lives” campaign in Pakistan on October 12-13, 2012.
The aim of these initiatives is to create consensus in Pakistan in favour of a cross-border clean energy movement while at the same time cementing the civil, political and cultural ties between India and Pakistan.
Reflecting on the need for enhanced bilateral relations, Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Director General, TERI, asserted, “India and Pakistan face common problems such as the lack of energy access for a large part of the population, particularly in rural areas. TERI has been at the forefront of solutions in this field. We are now extending our partnership to Pakistan, particularly with our programme of Lighting a Billion Lives. Such initiatives can go a long way in boosting the peace process between the two countries.”
Over the past few years, TERI’s widely acclaimed “Lighting a Billion Lives” campaign has garnered strong support across India, and has been instrumental in illuminating 382,750 households across the invisible interiors of rural India. Following its successful interventions in Africa, South Asia and South East Asia, TERI is now focusing on Pakistan with the launch of “Lighting a Million Lives” initiative.
The campaign is inspired by TERI’s commitment to global sustainable development and creation of innovative solutions for a better tomorrow. Through the campaign, TERI intends to facilitate the access and use of solar lighting devices among Pakistan’s rural communities. It is a known fact that clean and affordable energy is elementary to ensure inclusive socio-economic development and environmental conservation. According to an estimate, nearly 2.2 billion litres of kerosene are used each year for lighting purposes, while about 5.5 million tonnes of CO2 are emitted to the atmosphere by burning of kerosene. On the other hand, each solar lantern in its 10-year life replaces about 500-600 litres of kerosene, mitigating about 1.5 tonnes of CO2. Since its inception, TERI has been making a concerted effort towards addressing these critical issues as well as bringing about innovations to facilitate interventions enable energy access for all.
In this context, TERI—in collaboration with LEAD Pakistan and the AEDB--will be hosting a half-day high-level multi-stakeholder Conference on Energy Access in Islamabad on October 12, 2012. Featuring Pakistan’s leading policymakers, experts and business leaders, the Conference shall enable opinion leaders from India and Pakistan to formulate a coordinated strategy to strike the energy-poverty nexus at its roots.
Explaining the relevance of the Conference, Dr. Pachauri opined, “At present, Pakistan is facing a serious power problem. A large section of population in Pakistan’s rural areas is deprived of energy supply. We believe that it is in the best interest of both countries to be able to work together and cooperate in the spirit of good neighborliness. ”
Post the conference, the Institute shall also inaugurate a wide range of renewable technologies and facilities established by its researchers in the Pakistani Village of Gah—birthplace of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh--on October 13, 2012. TERI has adopted Village Gah under the aegis of its ‘Lighting a Million Lives’ initiative, which aims at integrating new and sustainable technologies for elimination of poverty by introducing Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs).
Highlighting the Institute’s work in Village Gah, Mr. Ibrahim Hafiz Rehman, Director, Social Transformation Division, TERI, said, “We are essentially providing technical support to boost energy security in Gah. We have connected several houses through smart grids and have set up 51 Solar Based Domestic Lighting Systems in the village since 2006. TERI has also installed 16 solar street lights and two additional solar water heater systems in Gah. However, for all the cost incurred in this project, we have received a tremendous amount of goodwill and warmth for our efforts.”
Marking the culmination of these landmark events, a benefit concert will also be held in Pakistan’s culture hub, Lahore, in the evening of October 13, 2012. The concert will feature Dr. Salman Ahmad of the “Junoon” fame, and the widely popular Indian rock band “Euphoria” led by Dr. Palash Sen. Bollywood actor Rahul Bose--who has travelled across Indian villages to muster support and spread awareness for the LaBL--will also be attending the event as a special Ambassador of the LaML campaign.
In myriad ways, the Lahore Benefit Concert symbolises a radical change in the lives of the rural poor across Pakistan and India. It marks a major milestone in the journey of a people from darkness to light. Through this apolitical concert, TERI and the Buksh Foundation not only hope to raise funds for the LaML campaign, but also raise awareness on the issue of sustainable development and bilateral unity.