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Off the grid in rural India

Villagers in Tuvar, India. Photo credit: Michael Henninger/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Field notes for the Pulitzer Center

Over the course of a 15-hour tour of the most remote areas of northwestern India, we were shown various degrees of progress made to expand electricity to rural villages.

In Khedbrahma, villagers gathered in the one room schoolhouse, shown above, to meet with the Narottam Lalbhai Rural Development Fund, a nongovernmental organization working in the area to provide services to those living off the grid. Pockets of Khedbrahma have little or no access to electricity, and villagers live use kerosene or firewood for cooking, heating and light.

Elsewhere, in the rugged mountains of Ambaji, about 30 miles away from Khedbrahma, the government has provided for dwellings: one solar panel, five LED lights, an exhaust fan and a mobile phone charger. The government wants to bring electricity to every citizen by 2019, but many analysts believe that is an ambitious and expensive goal without the backing of private industry and a coordinated effort to streamline technology and attract financing.

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