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Fiscally challenged Municipalities make India’s Solar City project into a pipedream

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Solar Cities program

Renewable energy is a hot concept for governments around the world as it solves multiple problems of energy security, global warming, fuel scarcity etc. at the same time. However, renewable energy is costlier than fossil fuel energy, despite the sharply falling prices of solar panels and wind turbines. The power grid also needs to be upgraded to handle the intermittent sources of electricity. This requires a lot of planning and thought before new solar schemes are planned and announced. India generally lacks planning and foresight with the bureaucracy and politicians showing little leadership. Most of India’s green programs have not been too successful. The Solar Cities program is another white elephant which seems destined for failure. This MNRE started policy aimed to identify and promote 60 Indian cities as Solar cities, where energy efficiency and solar power would reduce/supply 10-15% of the energy demand.

Read all about Solar Power in India.

However, the program remains mostly on paper with less than $5 million spent on it. The funding of the program is one of the major hurdles. Even as consultants have been employed to build plans, the implementation remains tardy because of the lack of funds. The 25% funding by the central government seems too little, considering the pathetic state of finances of most Indian cities. They cannot fund their 75% share given that the small amount of funds are needed for more urgent activities such as providing garbage disposal, water lines and roads. Building solar streetlights seems a great idea but given the harsh realities of India’s current economic situation, the Solar City program seems a pipedream. Richer Indian cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai should be encouraged to adopt renewable energy programs rather than the smaller, poorer Indian cities such as Bhubaneswar. These municipal corporations are tremendously rich due to the massive taxes they receive. They can implement these ambitious projects and other Indian cities can follow their example.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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