The Batti project began in the year 2011, with the efforts of Merwyn Coutinho and Rajiv Rathod, the co-founders of ‘Further and Beyond’.
However, the inspiration came to them almost a year ago when they visited the village of Gandhigram in Arunachal Pradesh; they were received by the friendly local Lisu tribe.
They were startled to see how these people were inhabiting the heart of nature, and in these modern times, were living in the dark. Post sunset, they thrived merely on wood fires when utmost required.
Therefore, they decided to yield certain efforts to light up their homes, and on Christmas of 2011, they acted on an idea and lit up 70 homes in the village using solar-powered lights. Thus the Batti project was born.
The project expanded with time and in the year 2012, the Batti Project officially took off when 7 homes in Lower Dibang Valley’s Dopuwa village were lit up for the first time with these solar panel kits. The ‘Batti kit’ is a durable kit that is easily accustomed to the tribal lifestyle.
It consists of 1 solar panel (20 watts), 1 lead battery (20Ah),3 LED tubes (3 Watts), 3 holders, 3 switches, 21 meters of fixed cabling (5,7 and 9m), and 1 charge controller. The efficacy is appalling since one kit can light up one home and all components are easy to maintain and sustainable in their usage.
The co-founders argued that the official document contained all the details. Seeing the administration was reluctant to move forward with the task at hand, the team at the Batti Project took it upon themselves to lighten up the villages of Arunachal Pradesh.
They have tried to come up with unique ways to raise funds for the project. One of these has been the ‘Ride to Light Cycling Challenge’, as part of which the team organizes a 10-day cycling tour through the unchartered territories of the Himalayas.
The first episode was a major success and received positive feedback both from the state government as well as the media.
In the year 2018, ‘Further and Beyond’ illuminated hundreds of houses in the Lower Dibang valley and at least 100 households in East Kameng’s Lada circle.
They also set a goal to illuminate 1500 homes in East Kameng. The project sets an example of good governance as it involves various stakeholders.
They also collaborated with The Technical University of Munich and took up the task of lighting up 50 government-run residential schools of Jumupani village in Lower Dibang Valley.
The project has worked fairly well and has not only attempted to illuminate the village with sustainable energy sources but also to teach the villagers to generate electricity for self-sustainability. The team has now tried to move beyond solar panels and is focused on generating hydel energy from the streams close to the school.
Coutinho has pointed out that rather than criticizing the government and waiting for the authorities to do their bit, we can ourselves contribute to the solution and make a difference.