Let there be light, the engineers thought. And they used not electricity, but just a dome, a pipe and sunlight. They named it ‘Surya Jyoti’, and it dispels the darkness in the homes of the poor.The micro-solar dome started as a pilot project to stream diffused sunlight into poorly-lit rooms through the roof in thatched, tiled or tin-roofed houses in the Sundarbans in West Bengal and in Tripura. Now, it has been commercialised.“It works on the principle of capturing sunlight using a micro-solar dome. The light is filtered through a PVC pipe with a highly reflective lining. Bright light emerges at the other end (within the room) through a glass shade,” said S.P. Gon Chaudhuri, former director of the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency and now the chairman of the Helsinki-based International Solar Innovation Council.Easy to installA roof-tile can be removed to install this, and it works equally well in a tin-roofed building too.The device has been developed by N.B. Institute for Rural Technology and adopted by the Centre’s Department of Science and Technology under its Technological Advancement for Rural Areas programme. The device, priced between ₹100-300, comes in three models. Around 5,000 solar domes are in use in the slums of Delhi and in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttarakhand. The Science and Technology Ministry estimates that ‘Surya Jyoti’ can help some 10 million households. These are off-grid, in urban and rural areas, without reliable access to electricity. The domes provide light equivalent to a 60W bulb.Anupam Baral, who owns Geetanjali Enterprises, a solar equipment firm, said his company was making the domes. Besides a basic model, two others come fitted with solar photo-voltaic panels and a lithium-ion battery to store energy when sunlight is scarce, also enabling mobile device charging. Recently, Central Electronics, a PSU, was asked to make the domes, Mr. Gon Chaudhuri said.
Spelling more trouble for the Kohinoor group, run by former Chief Minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi’s son Unmesh, the State-run Bank of Maharashtra has taken possession of immovable properties of Kohinoor Education Trust for failing to repay loans totalling ₹65 crore. This amount will go up after adding interest. Bank of Maharashtra, acting on behalf of other lenders — State Bank of India, and Bank of India — has taken possession of the trust’s properties in Kurla and Khandala under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Asset and Enforcement of Security Interest Act (Sarfaesi ). A public notice to this effect was issued on Monday.This is not the first time that the group is facing financial troubles. Earlier this year, it lost control over Kohinoor Square at Dadar after it failed to repay loans worth over ₹900 crore.Monday’s notice names borrower M/s Kohinoor Education Trust and personal guarantors Unmesh Manohar Joshi, Madhavi Unmesh Joshi and Anagha M Joshi along with corporate guarantor M/s Hotel Airport Kohinoor Pvt Ltd and M/s Kohinoor Planet Construction Pvt Ltd and asks them to repay the loan amount with interest within 60 days from the date of the notice.The Kohinoor Education Trust owes nearly ₹16 crore to Bank of Maharashtra, ₹38.63 crore to State Bank of India and ₹13.18 crore to Bank of India.“Since the borrowers having failed to repay the amount, notice is hereby issued to the borrowers/guarantors that the banks have taken possession of the properties,” reads the notice. The properties include a land parcel in Kurla in central Mumbai, and in the nearby Khandala area. The lenders also took possession of two buildings of the trust situated in Khandala, according to the notice. A detailed questionnaire sent to the Kohinoor Group by The Hindu seeking a response went unanswered. Mr Joshi could not be contacted.
The Centre on Monday held another round of talks with the NSCN-IM, the major insurgency group in Nagaland, aiming to hammer out differences, particularly on the outfit’s demand for a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas, and inch closer to a solution to the seven decades old problem, officials said.A team of the NSCN-IM, led by its general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, and Centre’s interlocutor and Nagaland Governor R N Ravi discussed here the possible ways to find an “honourable” solution by resolving the sticky issue of a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas.As talks were progressing with the NSCN-IM, a grouping of seven Naga outfits which is pushing for an early solution to the Naga issue has urged elected representatives to avoid a “neutral stand” and make clear their position.The issue of a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas has become the main bone of contention between the two sides with the NSCN-IM strongly pressing for it.“The dialogue, which lasted for more than four hours, remained inconclusive and both sides agreed to meet again soon. However, a final agreement between the NSCN-IM and the government is unlikely to take place by October 31,” an official privy to the development said.Mr. Ravi, in a statement, had said last week that a mutually agreed draft comprehensive settlement, including all the substantive issues and competencies, is ready for signing the final agreement.“Unfortunately at this auspicious juncture, the NSCN-IM has adopted a procrastinating attitude to delay the settlement raising the contentious symbolic issues of separate Naga national flag and Constitution on which they are fully aware of the government of India’s position,” he had said.Mr. Ravi’s statement bears significance in view of the central government’s August 5 announcement abrogating the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. With the annulment of the special status, the separate flag and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir cease to exist.The interlocutor said the NSCN-IM has “mischievously” dragged in the framework agreement and began imputing imaginary contents to it.The framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by NSCN-IM’s Muivah and interlocutor Mr. Ravi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after India’s independence in 1947.The central government has already rejected the NSCN-IM’s demand for unification of Naga inhabited areas — located in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The three Northeastern states also vehemently opposed it.Noting that the the Centre was keen on finding a solution, the grouping of seven organisations called Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) made the appeal to the elected representatives in a statement released by its media cell on Sunday night. The NNPG has been holding separate talks with the Centre since 2017.In the statement, the NNPG asserted that the elected representatives of Nagaland should not be maintaining a neutral stand on the matter, now that the government was keen on finding a solution.“Unresolved matters should be decided through political and democratic process…. The position and status of elected representatives of Nagaland cannot remain lukewarm. They cannot choose to hide behind the boulders blocking the way,” it said.The Centre had set a deadline for conclusion of peace talks in the wake of the Naga society’s demand for an early solution to the six-decade-old issue, the statement said.“It is time for political parties in Nagaland to clear their stand in the interest of the Naga people…. If the political parties of Nagaland fail in their constitutional duties and obligations, they should resign and allow the Election Commission of India to derecognise the parties,” the NNPG said.The interlocutor, Mr. Ravi is expected to hold dialogue with the NNPG in the coming days too.