Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN
NAGPUR: The Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA) has installed a solar-powered irrigation pump at its Muthawa community resource centre in Melghat Tiger Reserve on April 20th to irrigate fields with water from a tube well.

Tribal farmers in Melghat Tiger Reserve's buffer zone were invited by NCSA on May 1st to observe the pump and get firsthand training in its use. Around 30 farmers participated in the training.

Farmers from Kesarpur, Bhiroja, Chikhali and Bori inspected the solar panels and learned about the 5 HP pump and its electrical requirements. 
Due to a lack of or erratic power supply, the tribals in Melghat cannot always use electricity to irrigate their fields. Those who irrigate fields during the night due to the especially erratic supply during the day time, sometimes find themselves in conflict with wild animals.

Government proposals for the future of this region involve setting up more coal mines which will not only pollute the tiger habitat but could also lead to its loss as coal reserves are situated under the tiger habitats. Moreover, tigers and prey can be electrocuted due to the associated open transmission lines run through the Reserve.

The NCSA, which is working with unconventional but clean energy options, now plans to encourage tribals to use solar driven water pumps to irrigate their fields by arranging further work-shops at its community centre.

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