Article: Technology for peace-building between India & Pakistan – TERI’s RET projects
by Madhuri Mittal
This article was originally published on Countercurrents
William Shakespeare had said ‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin’. His statement can become a vision to bind the world together which is also the need of the hour. Nature or Renewable Energy be used to not only for a sustainable future but for a future altogether as besides environment, one of the major challenges today is that of peace-building.
Renewable Energy Technology can be used for peace-building. This has been explored in the case of India and Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan are developing nations. The conflict has only worsened their potential to meet their domestic issues. Thus, there is an urgent need to resolve the conflict. There is a need to develop and use technology not for increasing or sustaining conflict but to resolve it. This is being realised by the Governments which have now several proposals for Energy collaborations. This has also been realised and implemented by non-Governmental forces.
The effort was made by India’s research organization named TERI. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is a not-for-profit and policy research based organization that focuses its research activities in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development. With the aim to spread the sustainable sustenance of life message, TERI has been working in various countries across the world. It has also worked to strengthen bond with our neighboring countries. TERI has been working with Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and others.
In 2005, TERI had introduced Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) in Gah village in Pakistan. Gah village is the birthplace of India’s Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The project acquainted in Gah in the chakwal district has brought green electricity to the un-electrified households, provided electricity to street lights and also switched to renewable energy device for heating water. This project comes under the global initiative – Lighting a Billion Lives (LaBL) of TERI which aims at integrating new and sustainable technologies for elimination of poverty by introducing Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs). Now, the village has solar lighting devices in 51 households, solar water heating system in Gah Mosque, solar street lighting devices and solar powered computers are also provided in the Manmohan Singh’s Government Primary school. During the project period, the people of the village were trained to maintain and repair the installed devices on their own by organizing workshops and training programs. This project was organised with the collaboration of TERI with the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), Pakistan. This cross-border clean energy movement has helped the socio-economic development of both the countries. This project had also tied a new bond between the two nations which in future will form the great foundation of the Indo-Pak relations in the terms of mutually-benefitting friendship.
For Pakistan, TERI had also launched another initiative “Lighting a Million Lives” in 2012 with the aim to provide access to clean and reliable source of lighting, to the rural population inhabiting energy-deficient areas across Pakistan, through the intervention of solar technologies. This initiative was signed under MoU between TERI and Buksh Foundation, Pakistan based not for profit microfinance institution. Under this, two power micro-grids have been set up in two villages Chak 113 and 117 of Sahiwal district till date. The project aims to reach out to 4000 villages and hence, to lakhs of people in Pakistan.
The project established to bring together the two countries was also warmly-received by the people of the Pakistan, as told to me by Mr. Mohd Asim Mirza who was part of the Gah village set up. Besides informing me about this great initiative taken, he shared with me his experience of working in Pakistan.
“The people of the place are very humble, cooperative and very hospitable. We didn’t feel that we were in a different country”, he said.
The people had helped a lot in the setting up of the project. They were very warm and friendly towards us. The adherent also told me that the devices were exported through Wagah Border and all the facilitation services were provided by the Pakistan Government. He seemed very happy working there and experiencing the hospitality of the Gah village.
These efforts by TERI and its Pakistan-based collaborators are commendable and should be seen as the way forward. The two countries are facing same challenges. Both countries are having energy crises. But as we see, these can be solved mutually and progressively by forming strong bonds between the two. TERI along with different Pakistani organisations has taken the efforts to enhance the relations of India and Pakistan by constructing new stepping stones in terms of awareness, knowledge and technologies. Doing so, TERI has shown the power of peace. 67 years of hatred has given us nothing to boast about and it never will. The wars have taken away money and innocent lives. It has not improved anything, it has only worsened the situation in both developing countries. TERI’s effort shows the wonders that peace can do. It is peace that enables prosperity. There is a need to encourage similar such initiatives. It is time that the Governments implement the proposals for energy collaborations. It is time for peace and friendship as it is what will bring mutual prosperity.
Madhuri Mittal is a core member of Mission Bhartiyam and team member of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship initiative