History of Solar Alternatives and
The state of Bihar is
located in the north-eastern part of India. It has an
ancient history dating back to around 1000 B.C. When
today’s civilized world was in the dark ages Bihar had
famous universities like Vikramshila and Nalanda.
Gautama, the Buddha got his enlightenment in this land, it was the
field of activity of Mahavir Jain! But the present is not so rosy!
It has got population of about sixty million, a large part of which
is rural with an agrarian background.
The social structure is
practically feudal. The resources are very limited and
about 50% of the population live under the poverty line!
The state in not in a position to supply all the energy
requirements of such a large population because of its
own financial restraints! Vast majority of the people depend
the natural resources, such as trees from the forest to take care
of their ordinary fuel requirements. Thus forest cover is being
depleted rapidly affecting the weather conditions, especially the
monsoon, bringing with more poverty. According to a survey in the
Capital City, Patna, there is only one tree for every 2000 people
here! The forest range bordering Nepal in West Champaran District
is on the verge of becoming extinct.
the ecological crisis in Bihar, the Jesuits of Patna Province
had decided to conscientise the people in this regard. Fr.
Robert Athickal took the lead and started organizing the
students under the banner of student forum for environment
called "TARUMITRA" (www.tarumitra.org).
Fr. M. M. Mathew, one of the activists of this movement
took the initiative to look into the alternative sources
of energy to face the energy crisis and to some measure
remedy the ecological crisis.
In early 1996 Fr. M.
M. Mathew went to Gujarat to study the
feasibility of promoting renewable energy in
Bihar. He got a chance to undergo the training
with the German Scientist Wolfgang Scheffler, the inventor
of the now famous solar concentrated Scheffler community
cooker. After returning from Gujarat with the support of
the Jesuit Province of Patna, Fr. M. M. Mathew initiated
a solar manufacturing unit in the premises of Xavier teachers
training Institute at Digha Ghat, Patna.
|View of the
Scheffler reflectors in Tarumitra (Patna)
This new venture in the
field of solar energy by Fr. M. M. Mathew and the
Jesuits received vide support from the beginning itself.
The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES)
gave wholehearted support and approved this venture for
vide use throughout the country. Our success is due to a large
extent because of this help from MNES.
Many engineers and
volunteers from abroad supported this solar
manufacturing unit with great enthusiasm. Mr. Olaf Kraus
of Germany took much interest to build up this venture.
The wholehearted support of ‘Solare Bruecke’ and Mr.
Wolfgang Scheffler brought SAAP to what it is today.
Fr. Mathew started the work
with a single experienced welder and a few youths from
the poorest of the poor. Their dedication and commitment
was remarkable. Mainly it is this that opened our eyes
to the potentiality of the oppressed deprived of
opportunities. So we opened a vocational training program
for the weaker and neglected sections of the society.
In 1988 the location of
SAAP was shifted to Phulwarisharif premises provided by
the Catholic Archbishop of Patna. We have installed
SK-14 domestic cookers, Scheffler community cookers,
dryers, steam projects, hot water systems, all based on
solar energy. Now we are researching on solar motorized rickshaws,
steam and hydro-turbines, solar thermal and photovoltaic refrigerators,
distillation units, block-steam projects etc. Today Solar Alternatives
is also counted as one of the leading fabricators of solar thermal
items in the country.