Chetan Solanki, an IIT Bombay professor, has been travelling on an “energy swaraj yatra” since 2020 in a bus he built himself. He plans to spend the entire 11-year mission travelling only on the bus, which will be entirely powered by sunlight energy from the solar PV panels on its roof.

Professor Solanki extensively studied alternative energy sources while a Ph.D. student in Europe. Even after moving back to India in 2004, he wished to raise awareness of this issue by undertaking a fun project. 

Office, House, And More On Solar-Powered Bus

Thus, he came up with the concept of spending 11 years living and travelling across the nation on a temporary bus to provide lectures and inform people about the value of sustainable living. The professor will hold the “Energy Swaraj Yatra” from 2020 to 2030 while on unpaid leave.

The modified bus has an office area, a kitchen with an induction cooktop and refrigerator, a training room, and an air-conditioned bedroom. These features are powered by eight solar panels installed on the mobile home’s roof. Along with Solanki, other passengers on the bus include the driver, his assistant, and a volunteer from the Energy Swaraj Foundation. 

“As of right now, we only have seven years and eleven days to stop climate change. It will be permanent after 2030, Solanki said while displaying the bus that will serve as his residence at that time.

“Humans cause climate change, and we alone can stop it. If we lead a low-energy lifestyle, we can do that. The guiding philosophy is to minimise, avoid, and generate. Utilise energy as little as feasible. Whenever possible, strive to reduce your consumption. Create electricity at a community-based, off-grid solar plant. It would be best if you disconnected from the grid, he advised. 

Image Credit : The Better India

Stop Subsidising Solar Energy 

The campaigner, known as “Solar Gandhi,” strives for a life with a small carbon footprint. Fascinatingly, he believes the government should stop subsidising solar energy if it wants to promote it.

Because people feel bad about using solar energy and not receiving subsidies, he claimed that although solar power has been present for the past 50 years, all the subsidies are slowing it down. 

In order to spread energy swaraj, Solanki is now on unpaid vacation from the IIT. “Considering the imminent effects of climate change, I wondered what Gandhi would have done. He wouldn’t have sat around, I’m sure of it. To alert people to the importance of swaraj, he would have set out on an epic trip akin to the Dandi March. No, Gandhi wasn’t me. However, I felt compelled to carry on in his footsteps for energy swaraj,” he continued. 

“It will take at least ten years to raise awareness about the urgent need for action to stop climate change, not just one or two. So I traveled nonstop across India for ten years, or until 2030. I promised myself that, even on holidays, I wouldn’t return home to see my family. 

In the next eleven years, Solanki intends to traverse all of India at least five times. The whole thing was crowdfunded. “I’m only going to spend the entire trip living on my bus. In a city like Kolkata, a household of five must limit its energy usage to 200 units. When I was at home, I never permitted it to go over 100 units,” he stated. 

Across the nation, he has already held 600 workshops on climate change. Energy swaraj is a straightforward yet effective approach for supplying energy to people, ensuring the nation’s energy security, generating income, and reducing climate change. According to him, the “Energy Swaraj Yatra” aims to advance “atma nirbharta” in the energy sector. 

In addition, he established a small school in Madhya Pradesh that is entirely powered by solar energy. He demonstrated how to construct solar lights to the locals there.

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