Studying rise in temperature triggered by solar park: Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar

Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar said that the Karnataka government has taken note of the issues highlighted by The New Indian Express in a series of articles
The solar park facility in Pavagada in Tumakuru
The solar park facility in Pavagada in Tumakuru

BENGALURU: A noticeable increase in temperature in the villages close to one of India’s biggest solar projects in Pavagada taluk of Tumakuru district is one of the many concerns that experts want the State Government to take note of as it plans to ramp up its solar energy generation.

Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar said that the government has taken note of the issues highlighted by The New Indian Express in a series of articles and directed the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL) to find out the exact reason for the rise in temperature.

Kumar, who was inducted into the Bommai government in August this year, and given the all-important energy portfolio, spoke to TNSE on the government’s plans to increase rooftop solar power generation and measures to be taken to address people’s concerns living close to solar parks.

What is the status of power generation through rooftop solar energy?

Karnataka is keen on implementing the ambitious scheme of power generation through rooftop solar sources. We will extend it to all government buildings and encourage people to install solar panels on their rooftops. While the Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company Ltd is the nodal agency, BESCOM and KREDL will work together to implement the project. This is expected to generate 300 MW of energy, which will be utilised by people residing in those buildings where the panels are installed. The State Government has called for applications from the public.

There has been an increase in temperature at villages of Pavagada where the solar park has come up. Experts attribute it to solar panels. Has this come to the government’s notice and what is being done?

After the reports published in The New Indian Express about the increase in temperature (in villages near the solar park), I have directed KREDL to study and submit a report on the exact cause for the increase in temperature.

One of the reasons for the high temperature is that there are no trees in and around the solar park. How will the government address this concern as it plans to take up more solar power projects?

I have directed the officials to take steps to grow trees in at least 30 per cent of the area where solar panels are installed. This has to be followed at all solar power projects (installed on the ground) in the future.

Why was it not done at the solar project in Pavagada?

Pavagada has water scarcity, less rain and no major water source. However, it is the duty of engineers to ensure trees are grown as per the agreement. I have now directed them to check for any alternative means so that trees can be grown.

Many households in the villages of Pavagada have no toilets. Why did not the government provide amenities?

The Tumakuru deputy commissioner has Rs 68 crore, which is the funds given by companies under their Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. We have directed the officials to implement measures to provide amenities, including toilets and other facilities, on priority at villages in Pavagada.  The committee headed by the deputy commissioner will finalise the details.

When the project was implemented, the government had assured jobs to locals, including former Naxalites. But that was not done. Why did the government fail to give jobs to locals and will you consider their pleas now?

The company will accommodate locals, including former Naxalites, according to their qualifications. We cannot insist on giving jobs to them.

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