Odanthurai Gram Panchayat situated 40 kilometers north of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Everyday we are hearing news about Global warming, depleting natural resources, increasing carbon emissions, soil and water pollution. Self powered Odanthurai has set an example by producing its own green power for its needs.
The most notable among Odanthurai’s self-help ventures is the 350-kw wind power generator that was set up in 2006 under the direction of a well functioning gram panchayat. The Panchayat President Shanmugam thought, “Why not we set up a wind power project under panchayat ownership? After all a village community is the most legitimate owner of land and wind, the two natural resources that are enough for power generation.” Now, the panchayat has not only been generating electricity for their own use, but also selling power to Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB).
Though the panchayat faces three hours of power disruption every day, it ensures that drinking water pumping operations and street lighting are not affected, as renewable energy is used for such needs. Streetlights burn in the two hamlets of Vinobhaji Nagar and Kalarpudur even when load shedding is in force, as they are run on solar energy.
Under the Green House Scheme of the State government, the Panchayat has till now built 850 houses and handed over to the real beneficiaries. It is highest record in the State. For his better performance, the people in the panchayat gave an opportunity to Shanmugam as an independent candidate between 1996 and 2006 though he is just 10th qualified. Since the panchayat was reserved for female, people elected Shanmugam’s spouse S Lingammal between 2006 and 2016 without a serious election campaign. Village panchayat presidents, college professors, students, foreign delegates and IAS officers have been visiting the village often, to learn the administrative perspective.
Let us salute Mr. Shanmugam for setting his village a model of inspiring self-powered village.