How a Texan teen is taking LED bulbs to the poor

Meera Vashisht, a 13-year-old Indian-origin girl living in the US, raises Rs 1.4 lakh through crowdfunding

India At Large staff

When Meera Vashisht learnt about India’s ‘Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for all’ (UJALA) programme while working on her 7th-class science project in her hometown Texas in the US, she began to think whether it would be really possible for the country’s underprivileged to replace their incandescent bulbs with LED lamps that are over seven times as expensive?

The 13-year-old Indian-origin girl, who was born and brought up in the US and is a seventh grader in Sartartia Middle School in Sugar Land, Texas, then got down to drafting a letter which she sent out to “random people that I could find in our family phone book”, explaining the government’s objective of reducing greenhouse gases as well as taking electricity to the poorest villages in India.

So far, Vashisht has reportedly collected $2,079.51 with the help of her parents and reached out to 500 people in her vicinity in Houston, Texas, as per reports.

She purchased LED bulbs from the Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), the implementing agency for UJALA, and distributed them to residents of JJ clusters in Keshavpuram in New Delhi recently.

Six hundred families will benefit from 1,800 LED bulbs to be provided under the UJALA scheme from the funds collected by Vashisht. “LED bulbs use less than half the energy of an incandescent bulb and runs for over seven to eight years. I am very happy to have been able to carry out the distribution of LED bulbs and hope to inspire young minds across the globe for working towards energy efficiency,” she told PTI.

Vashisht also believes that her effort will result in lighting up 46 houses for one year, reducing electricity bills by Rs 2,500 and most importantly there will be significant reduction in CO2 emissions every year.

Under UJALA, over 12.60 crore LED bulbs have already been distributed across India, which is leading to a daily energy savings of about 4.48 crore kWh and resulting in avoidance of about 3,278 MW of peak demand, as per government reports. Through the scheme, the estimated cumulative cost reduction of bills of consumers, per day, is Rs. 17.94 crore and is part of the governments efforts to spread the message of energy efficiency in the country.

Born to a Punjabi father and Kashmiri mother, Vashisht says she often has India on her mind — its people, the hustle and bustle in the bazaars, festivals, her ancestral home in Punjab and, above all, the “feeling of belonging and the smiles from everyone”, she told ET Magazine.

“The joy of participating in Diwali, Holi and other colourful festivals rejuvenates me,” she said, adding that she is connected to India every moment because of her ongoing training in Bharatnatyam and Hindustani classical music. Vashisht also plays the flute in her school band.

Pics courtesy: Facebook/EESL

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