HYDERABAD : Most of us throw away plastic bottles after use or keep it handy for storage purpose. However, there are some enterprising individuals in the city who are using the synthetic materials to improve the quality of life for those in need. Giving new meaning to the term recycle is the My Shelter Foundation India which has introduced the initiative ‘Liter of Light’ in the rural areas. Started by Pradeep Chanti, a final year student from Sri Sai Jyothi Engineering College along with Ranjeet Gakhare, Sidharth Ranjan and Srinivas Chaitanya, the foundation is able bring some light in rural homes through this method.
Explaining the concept, team member Srinivas Chaitanya says, “The device is a transparent 1.5-2 liter plastic bottle, typically used for carbonated drinks, filled with water plus a little bleach or distilled water to inhibit algal growth. It is fitted through the roof of a house using a corrugated metal sheet. During daytime the water inside the bottle refracts sunlight, delivering about as much light as a 40 to 60 watt incandescent bulb to the interior. A properly installed solar bottle can last up to five years and the initial cost would be `150.”
The concept was first started by Alfredo Moser from Brazil and promoted in Philippines by Illac Diaz, a student of Massachusetts Institute of Technology which was incorporated by My Shelter Foundation.
“I wanted to sensitise the public towards people who can’t afford a bulb in their house or don’t have any power source. After hearing about the concept of ‘Liter of Light’ by Alfredo Moser. I decided to do it at home by installing the first light at Godamguda village near Vikarabad in 2011,” says the founder Pradeep. With the successful installation of the bulb, the Pradeep along with his team got encouraged to expand the concept further. Till date, the team from My Shelter Foundation India has installed around 500 bulbs across the country. “Our goal is to ensure that the lady of the house can cook food and a child can study in this light,” shares the 22-year old.
After explaining the concept to students from different educational instutions like IITs, BITS, Vellore Institute of Technology and many other engineering college across country, Pradeep was able to register his foundation which is now 150-volunteer strong today.
While this technique is used to generate light during day, the team has also has designed solar bottle light which emits light during night. “For the lights, we use recyclable PVC pipes, solar panel, LED light, battery and used saline drips which we get from the hospitals. The entire setup costs `600 and the light would run up to 10 hours. This setup was first used in Anand, a town in Gujarat,” informs Srinivas. When it comes to the number of lights required in a house, that is decided taking the area of the house into consideration. According to Srinivas, usually one or two lights are sufficient.
The foundation has also been able to spread awareness about the concept in various cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi etc with the help of several NGOs and organizations through workshops and campaigns. “In order to help the idea grow sustainably, we have also implemented a ‘Local Entrepreneur’ business model where bottle bulbs are assembled and installed by local people, so they can earn a small income for their work,’ comments Pradeep.
Apart from this, the volunteers of the organisation also install lights in tribal areas, villages and slums. The beneficiaries get this service for free as the cost is incurred either by the NGO itself or by an MNC which usually takes up the task as a Corporate Social Responsibility activity. “Right now the next plan is to launch Street Light Solutions, where the similar concepts will be used to make street lights which will be installed in villages,” says Pradeep on a parting note.