Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bringing light in a bottle

NAGPUR: In many a tales of yore, magicians are said to have trapped light in a box. In modern times, some have been successful in trapping light in a bottle. "As students, while working for NGOs, we came across the problem of the literal absence of light from people's life. We saw children studying and people working without light and decided to do something about it," said Radhika Lokur, one of the founder members of Jal Jyoti team.

It was while trying to find an affordable solution for the problem that Radhika and three of her friends and co-founders of Jal Jyoti project, Sanjna Malpani, Ashna Roy and Tasneem Kakal came upon a concept developed by a Brazilian, Alfredo Moser.

"It is a very simple concept. You fill a big bottle of cold drink till its neck and then pour bleach, leaving just a little space at the top and then close and seal the cap of the bottle. Then you fix the bottle in a fibreglass sheet which is of the same corrugation as the roof and then fix this set-up at the roof after drilling a bottle sized hole in it. The bleach prevents any kind of decay of the water and thus the bottle can be used up to five years," said Radhika.

In the day time the sunlight refracts through the bottled water to pour light into the house equalling the power of a 55 watt bulb. "This system is very effective in urban slums where the proximity of houses makes it difficult for light to come in and forces the use of electricity for the purpose even in daytime," said Radhika.

The Jal Jyoti team which comprises of many more volunteers like the above four, have already installed about a 100 such bottle bulbs in the slums of Mumbai where the houses have saved on their electricity bills. "We are working for knowledge dissemination. We don't want people to be dependent on us. Thus, wherever we are going, we are leaving people with instructions on how to do it. While we ourselves will continue to install new lights, we are encouraging others to do it too so that the movement spreads wide and more light comes into people's lives," said Radhika.

The team has come to Nagpur by collaborating with the Children's Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) run by the Sir Gangadharrao Chitnavis Trust and conducted a workshop on Saturday at Chitnavis Centre. "We called teachers and students of schools associated with us in CMCA and some other organizations for this workshop," said Nisha Thakur, project coordinator, Sir Gangadharrao Chitnavis Trust. The group also conducted a workshop on Sunday at Takia slums on Sunday.