Hearing words of praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday came as a pleasant surprise for 55-year-old Noor Jehan for whom lighting homes in her village by providing solar lamps on rent has now become a way of life.
“I am extremely happy that the Prime Minister took my name and praised my work. It is a morale booster,” Noor Jehan told PTI as she welcomed scores of BJP leaders and media persons who flocked her home in the nondescript village Beri Dariyawan, which is some 25 kms from here. Noor Jehan provides solar lamps to villagers at a moderate cost of about Rs 3.3 a day or Rs 100 per month, helping about 50 families in the village where government infrastructure is virtually non-existent and electricity has still not reached.
Giving examples of how some common people are contributing in their own way towards energy conservation and energy efficiency, Modi during his radio address cited the case of Noor Jehan of Kanpur who he said was probably not too educated but had set up a factory of solar ‘lalteins’ (lamps). Hailing Noor Jehan, he said she is working as per the meaning of her name — ‘giving light to the world’.
“Her work can be an inspiration for all those want to fight climate change,” he said. After the demise of her husband 20 years ago, Noor Jehan did not know how she was to raise her small children without any land to till. “I started working in other people’s fields. It used to fetch me Rs 15 daily with which I took care of my family. We used to get to have a full meal only occasionally,” she said.
“But three years back my life changed when an NGO, which used to operate community radio in my village, provided me with a solar plate and rechargeable lamp,” she said. Initially she used the lamp to light her home at night, but she started renting it out when she ran out of money for her children’s studies. “When the NGO came to know that I’ve started renting out the lamp, they provided me with some more.
Today, I have 50 of them and the NGO has given me five more solar plates as well,” Noor Jehen said.
“Every evening villagers take these lamps for use and bring them back to me next morning for recharging,” she said, adding that she, however, faces problems during rainy days as she is unable to find takers for the lamps. Noor Jehan now hopes that PM’s praise will help her in getting some financial aid from the government so that she can raise the number of lamps to 100. “There is no power in the village and therefore, the demand for solar lamps is increasing as more and more people want to make sure their children get to study even during the night hours,” she said.