By virtue of solar power, the lifestyle of around two lakh people, living in some 200 remote and hardly reachable riverine char villages of all five districts in greater Rangpur region, is changing fast.
Government officials and NGOs executives said the char people are getting uninterrupted power supply using over 28,000 solar power units set up in char villages of Rangpur, Nilphamari, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Gaibandha districts in the region.
Different NGOs and the government through the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) are distributing solar panels to the people living in remote areas.
Divisional Commissioner Kazi Hasan Ahmed said the government through Members of the Parliament (MPs), Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and Upazila Parishads (UPs) is distributing solar panels under Test Relief and other programmes.
"As a Divisional Commissioner, I also get Taka 80-lakh allocation annually in two phases and allocate the amount in favour of different institutions and organisations as per rule and they purchase solar panels from the IDCOL," he said.
Similarly, Members of the Parliament, District Relief and Rehabilitation Offices, upazila and union parishads also distribute their allocations under Test Relief programmes to the people and institutions to procure solar panels as per rules, Hasan added.
Senior Coordinator of RDRS Bangladesh Mamunur Rashid said over 50 percent of the people living in remote and hardly reachable riverine char areas have been brought under solar power coverage in greater Rangpur region.
Many NGOs like Grameen Shakti, RISDA Bangladesh, RDRS Bangladesh, Prottyasha, Rahim Afroz, Srijani Bangladesh and others have installed solar power units at Taka 8,000 to Taka 45,000 each depending on power generation capacities.
"Many NGOs are getting assistance from the IDCOL that has already distributed 4.12 million units of solar panels all over the country till May last year through different partner organisations," he said.
"Like other NGOs, RDRS Bangladesh has distributed 2,000 solar power units on easy installments to 2,000 families of char villages under Rangpur, Lalmonirhat and Kurigram districts," Mamun added.
Chairman of Chilmari upazila in Kurigram Shawkat Ali Sarker, Bir Bikram, said the government and NGOs have set up over 1,000 solar panels in char areas of all six unions in the upazila.
Similarly, many people of remote char villages of Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Kurigram and Gaibandha are now using solar power.
Talking to BSS, solar power user Nurul Amin of Char Machabandha village under Chilmari upazila said he could not even think about electricity an era ago though it has become a reality as the villagers there can avail of this facility.
Chairman of Astomirchar union in Chilmari upazila Abu Taleb said the char villagers and owners of the solar power units neither suffer from low-voltage nor load shedding and some of them are crushing paddy at nights using electricity from solar plants.
"The char people are watching television programmes to become aware of drugs, child marriage, malnutrition and dowry and using fans, bulbs and refrigerators, charging mobile phone sets, operating computers and doing other daily jobs," Taleb added.
Housewives Aklima Khatun of village Char Korai Barishal under Chilmari upazila in Kurigram and Morsheda Begum of village Char Mohipur under Gangachara upazila in Rangpur said they are getting uninterrupted supply of power using solar technology.