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Study on the Impact of Grid Electricity in Powering the Expansion of Healthcare Services and Facilities in Sagar Island

Affiliations

  • India Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (Assisted by the World Bank), SPMU- West Bengal, Institute of Environmental Studies & Wetland Management, Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal, India

Abstract


Sagar Island, also known as 'Gangasagar' in commoners' parlance is one of the populous islands that falls under the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve in the State of West Bengal. The Island articulates the faith and sentiments of teeming billions of this country in a transcendental and sublime manner since time immemorial. Despite the age-old religious and cultural connotations, the island's socio-economic growth was contained to a certain extent due to non-availability of grid electricity. Islanders had to depend primarily on energy supplied in an intermittent manner through solar photovoltaic cells, diesel generator sets, kerosene-fed implements used for illumination or otherwise along with fuelwood. Situation in Sagar Island had started changing dramatically from 2012 onwards with the rolling out of 100 per cent household electrification programme under 'Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project.' Resonance of grid electricity is palpable cutting across all geographic, social and economic heterogeneities in Sagar Island. The execution of the entire component did have a kaleidoscopic impact through spurting of multiple socio-economic activities in Sagar Island. The present paper deliberates on the impact of grid electricity vis-à-vis the improvements that have taken place with respect to healthcare services and facilities in Sagar Island. The study shows that the initiatives, that are propelled either due to distribution of grid electricity through government-owned healthcare centres or through private healthcare enterprises, are quite impressive. Quantitative and qualitative assessments of 17 units, instrumental in providing healthcare services and facilities of varied nature in Sagar Island, have proved beyond doubt that grid electricity is not only a demand-driven project initiative whence it was conceived but in real terms is a game-changer that accelerates the pace of sustainable development.

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