They were part of air sorties during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistan wars. Today, these war heroes are leading a campaign for clean energy.
Three retired squadron leaders PK Purushe, AC Kalele and BS Rathode have installed 40 solar panels atop their 14-storey Trishul Cooperative Housing Society (CHS) at Lokhandwala, Andheri, in November last year. The electricity generated from these panels is powering the common areas of the housing society and has helped to reduce the monthly electricity from Rs20,000 to Rs350 — a drop of almost 98%. The society spent Rs8.38 lakh to install the solar project
Of the 120 people living in 42 flats, the building houses 20 retired Indian Air Force officers.
“Apart from reducing electricity bills, we wanted to leave something behind for the future generations and make them understand the importance of harnessing energy from the sun,” said Purushe, who was in-charge of operations across northeast during the two wars.
Prior to the installation of solar panels, the occupants were unsure of their benefit, said Kalele, former pilot in-charge of flying paratroopers.
“We are yet to inform the other residents about the 98% drop in the electricity bills. I am sure their perspective will change,” he said. “We learnt about the benefits of solar from a the residents of a nearby complex and a detailed presentation from the private company that installed ours.”
Lights in the staircases, water pumps and common areas in the housing society are powered using solar energy. “We are saving more than Rs17,000 a month and expect our annual savings to touch Rs2.4 lakh,” said Rathode, former pilot in-charge of an entire fleet of HS748 aircrafts.
Refraining from burning coal and fossil fuels to generate electricity, the 10 kilowatt (KW) solar system atop Thrishul society has polycrystalline panels. These panels, spread across 1,000 sq ft, generate about of 40 kilowatt hour (kWh) electricity per day. A city house with two bedrooms on average uses 8 to 10 kWh electricity daily.
“On a sunny day, the power generated can be as high as 63kWh. And can drop to 15kWh per day during the monsoon season,” said Sishir Garemella, founder and chief executive officer, Sunvest Energy Private Limited, the company that installed the solar panels. “We hope that solar panels will become a consumer product on every rooftop in Mumbai in the years to come.”
The renewable energy source will not only benefit the residents, but even areas in the city where electricity is inadequate. A net metering system has been installed at the building, which allows surplus power generated by solar panels to be transported back to the grid. Also, the society can ask for power in case of a shortfall and will be charged by the power supplier only for the net usage.
Besides saving electricity, the society has been segregating 10kg of dry and wet waste for the last four years before sending to the city dumps. In addition, the society has planted 20 fruit trees on its premises.
“We salute the war veterans for protecting us in the past and setting and an example with this initiative. Stalwarts like them will be seen as role models by generations to come,” said a senior official from the state government.