As the region is very remote, the communities have not interacted with anyone post the lockdown. The
village is 12 kms away from Yeshmantpur which is the nearest large town where a patient was
detected positive post COVID testing. The patient has since been moved to the district hospital in
Koraput and the area has been strictly shut down. Since the past few weeks, the towns have been
opening up services have been disrupted due to a minimum of 4 hours of power cut every day- Unable
to procure diesel, leading them to close early. This has not been the case with the solar powered
Livelihood Centre run by the SHG.
For people to know about this centre in the wider region, it took 15 days of awareness building to link
the nearby villagers to this centre. IDS, the local NGO partner was doing mask distribution and other
relief work during which they informed the villagers of this centre. The sarpanch (village leader) has
also been immensely supportive of the centre from the start and has helped safeguard the SHG
members from any trouble or disruption from local police or other authorities. The people from 17
villages within the 12-15 km radius are now dependent on this centre for accessing essential services.
The local communities accessing the milling services do processing on a weekly basis and not on a
bulk basis. They do not have storage and there is no packaging system due to which they leave the
produce tied up in cloth or steel tins causing pest infestation. Weekly milling is very essential for the
communities for this reason.
- Solar Powered Printing/Photocopying Unit: During the COVID lockdown, the need for accessing
photocopying and printing services has come down as there are no regular government services,
employment related services or school supplies required. Due to this, the income has dropped to
INR 1800 per month from INR 2500. However, with schemes, loans and other government services
that will start to kick off, the need for this service is predicted to resume.
- Solar Powered Mobile Charging Unit: The mobile charging unit has 15 charging points allowing
15 mobiles to charge at the same time. The service was primarily used by school teachers, local
youth especially during the rainy season when power cuts are at its highest. During the COVID
lockdown, the number of people accessing this service has reduced as there have been protocols
on physical distancing with people now being allowed to crowd the space. Per day there are 2-4
people who have been accessing this service.
- Solar Powered Rice Mill: Within Lakhimpur block, there are 500+ rice cultivating farmers
associated with IDS. Initially, there was one machine which was milling both the rice and ragi in the
same machine. But due to increased demand, two separate machines based on the requirements
were designed by SELCO Foundation and installed in February, 2020. The mills are open from 7 AM
to 7 PM with a 2 and a half hour break in between. During the lockdown, they are able to earn
approximately INR 1200 per day.
- Solar Powered Millet Mill: Through the IDS program, there are 270 households cultivating ragi
within Lakhimpur block itself who are promoted by the organization. Post the lockdown, the ragi mill
is also running for 9 hours in a day, more or less being used constantly. The charges have been
increased to INR 5 per kg (from INR 3 per kg) due to additional operational hours and people
required. During the lockdown, the SHG is able to earn close to INR 700 per day from milling ragi.
- Solar Powered Sewing Machine: One sewing machine was installed, being used by the daughter
of one of the SHG members. The local villagers give her their clothes on which she could do basic
repair work and simple embroideries. She keeps half the income that she would get and gives the
rest half to the SHG. Due to the lockdown, one of her uncles who owns a tailoring shop in Lakhimpur
has had to shut shop and return to the village and will return post. He is very skilled and is using the
solar powered sewing machine to take orders and stitch clothes, repair, do embroidery etc. He is
using this time to teach the girl more advanced tailoring skills which she has successfully been
picking up on. Due to this, the panchayat has given her the order to stitch all the 7th grade school
uniforms for the coming year which will increase her income multifold.