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Four clean energy organisations from India have been shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Ashden International Awards, known as the “Green Oscars”.
The organisations shortlisted for the awards include a Gujarat-based company that specialises in blending sustainability and energy efficiency in buildings with beautiful design; a Rajasthan-based last-mile project to provide the hard-to-reach with access to clean energy; a Mumbai-based network enabling women salt farmers to increase revenue through solar-powered salt pumps and another firm which has succeeded in lighting up four million households in the country.
Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder-director of the awards which which will be announced on June 9 said, “This year’s shortlist is one of our most exciting ever and the enterprises and programmes that have made it this far are amazing leaders at the very forefront of a low carbon future.”
Abhikram, based in Ahmedabad, uses traditional materials and techniques like lime washing in new builds and has also retrofitted and preserved everything from palaces to temples.
For more than 30 years, the architectural practice has drawn on a deep rooted knowledge of traditional construction methods and materials.
Parul Zaveri from the group said: “The teams of Abhikram and Panika, past and present, are extremely happy at being shortlisted for this prestigious award.”
The group believes that this recognition strengthens its convictions, beliefs and design approaches in having initiated and promoted grassroot approaches to sustainability.
“It also is recognition of our efforts in re-establishing the relevance of the use of traditional materials, technologies, processes and crafts in the contemporary context,” Zaveri said.
The other shortlisted organisation from India, Frontier Markets in Jaipur focuses on reaching the poorest and most remote areas.
The business offers a unique distribution model to provide high quality solar lamps and other solar systems to hard-to-reach villages, using a network of trained women called Solar Sahelis to be the face of their marketing and after-sales service.
To date, Frontier Markets has sold over 100,000 clean energy products in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Ajaita Shah from Frontier Markets said: “We are extremely honoured and excited about this nomination; especially because it’s highlighting our efforts to empower women through energy access.
“This nomination will help us boost our efforts to bring more women in the forefront to energy access and hopefully help us scale our work on the ground. We believe women should be in the centre of energy, and we hope to showcase why through the Ashden Award.”
Grassroots Trading Network, another project shortlisted for the awards, was set up to tackle the problem of salt production requiring large volumes of salt water to be pumped into salt pans by means of diesel powered pumps.
The fuel costs can comprise 70 per cent of their profits. The network introduced solar pumps to lower production costs and increase profits.
The salt farmers use the savings from diesel to repay the cost of the solar pumps in instalments over four years.
Reema Nanavaty, director of Economic and Rural Organising at the network, said: “The salt pan workers are the poorest of the poor.”
SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) has organised more than 15,000 salt pan workers in their fight against poverty. Access to energy as their right, is of utmost importance.
“We at SEWA called it the Second Freedom or the Economic Freedom for the salt pan workers. An Award from Ashden will help us reach freedom from poverty and starvation.”
With an office in Mumbai,Â Greenlight PlanetÂ is on a mission to deliver reliable solar light that everyone can afford. With over 4 million households reached, the organisation is well on its way.
To expand its reach, Greenlight Planet carefully screens and selects strategic partners who can distribute
Sun King solar products out to the most remote regions and overcome final barriers to purchase such as
affordability for the poorest consumers.
Partners range from rural distributors, micro-finance institutions and agro-farming consulting agencies.
Greenlight CEO Anish Thakkar said, “We are honoured to be included in the 2016 International Ashden Awards shortlist. This is a great validation for the hard work of our dedicated partners, sales agents, staff and customers do to get bright, clean solar light into homes each day.”
Now in their 16th year, the Ashden Awards celebrate pioneering businesses and organisations that are helping tackle climate change and improving people’s lives.
Over 20 organisations from India have won Ashden Awards since 2001.
A total of 11 Ashden Awards will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on June 9 and the winners will receive up to 30,000 pounds besides global recognition for their respective projects.
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