Eco-Management Initiatives by MMCF: Research into Solar Energy for public transport

21. February 2013 16:03 by Dr. Mayank Gupta in Charities

This project is by far the most high profile alternate energy initiative undertaken in the region. The Mewar Solar Cell aims at producing vehicles that can be used for clean, noise-free and efficient public transport in tourist centers such as Udaipur. The Foundation funded the development of prototypes of solar rickshaws and boats that were actively used in the City Palace Complex. Prototypes of these vehicles, if not still in active usage, are now housed in a museum to raise the public profile of this project and to continue the efforts to make such vehicles commercially viable and available from a general production line. Enormous public awareness about alternative sources of energy have been created through popular rallies organized by the Foundation that feature these prototypes as well as other such vehicles from around the world.

- In 1992 Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, Chairman and Managing Trustee of the
Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, Udaipur instigated research that led to the development of solar power as a source of energy for transportation systems in and around Udaipur

- A small diesel engine boat with the capacity to carry up to five passengers was converted to operate off batteries powered by solar panels fixed onto its roof. It is now used as an attraction on Gajner Lake at the HRH property Gajner Palace, Gajner, Bikaner. The success of this water taxi led to the building of RA II an eight seater passenger boat that was successfully completed in 1995 and is used to ferry visitors on Lake Pichola, Udaipur.

- By 1999 a project office, The Mewar Solar Cell, was established to concentrate on research into passive energy systems. Technicians started to develop ways of reducing toxic fumes, noise and carbon dioxide emissions from land vehicles using solar powered photo-voltaic panels as the alternative source of energy. On the 14 November 2002, Udaipur Solar No. 1 was unveiled and driven by His Excellency Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Natural Resources of Canada at The Gateway of India, Mumbai along with Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur. By 2003 six prototype rickshaws with three and four wheels and one electric motorcycle had been built.

In April 2003, Mewar Solar Cell organised its first non-competitive International Solar Rally to test these prototypes on the roads in Rajasthan. It was an event that attracted 21 participants from the UK and USA, who sponsored the design and construction of the rickshaws that they donated, at the end of the rally, to MMCF .

- Publication of International Solar Rally Accomplished Brochure 2003.

- Creation of the concept of 'The Friends of Mewar Solar Cell' in November 2003 to achieve its objectives and to gather the support of individuals and organisations who share our vision and mission. Till date 65 friends across the globe have joined hands with Mewar Solar Cell.

- MMCF participated in an Environment Rally organised by Rotary Club of Udaipur Mewar on November 25, 2003, which was the Inaugural function for the Rotary Week Celebration. Its main objective was to create awareness and to educate the people of Udaipur about the benefits of Solar Power and its use in Solar Vehicles. Almost 1200 students from various Schools participated in the rally, and presentations about environmental conservation made with boards, models, slogans and live demos. MMPS, Udaipur also participated in the Solar rally. Onlookers were awe-struck by the sight of soundless, zero emission vehicles moving with speed. MMCF's Solar Rickshaws No. 1 and 3 led the rally followed by various schools and organisations and were the connoisseurs of all eyes.

- MMCF participated in the Jaipur Heritage International Festival organised by Jaipur Virasat Foundation at Jaipur from January 7- 21, 2004. MMCF took part in the inaugural gala parade organised by the Department of Tourism with Udaipur Solar Vehicle No. 1, built by Garmendale in the UK and No. 4, built in the Palace Workshop of the Vintage & Classic Car Collection in Udaipur. The Parade started at the new Vidhan Sabha Circle and was accompanied by officials in ceremonial dress. The Chief Guest in the Parade was Smt. Vasundhara Raje, Former Chief Minister of Rajasthan. The guest of honour was Mr. Rajeev Swaroop, IAS, Commissioner, Dept. of Tourism, Govt. of Rajasthan escorted by govt. officials and leading dignitaries from Jaipur.

- In April 2004 33 participants joined the International Solar Rally that completed 1200 kms with 13 vehicles powered by solar photovoltaic panels as the source of energy. Udaipur Solar No. 5 a four-wheel vehicle achieved an average speed of between 20-25 km per hour over a distance of 150 km, A two-wheel vehicle, Udaipur Solar No. 11, that due to its unusual appearance and outstanding performance was named the 'Rocket' covered a distance of 300 km in just nine hours and is probably the first solar machine of its type to have recorded this distance.

- Publication of International Solar Rally Accomplished Brochure 2004.

- A programme called 'Bhoomi' covered the International Solar Rally 2004 which was telecast on Delhi Doordarshan I at 11.00 am.

- A group of students from Michigan University, USA were briefed about Mewar Solar Cell, and its activities. An informative trip was organised to The Palace Workshop, Garden Hotel to see the research done on Solar Vehicles and test drives were also made by the students. They were explained the Vision behind the project from Solar Boats to Solar Vehicles and the future objectives of the project.

- The Society for Environmental Education and Research (SEERI), has bestowed its National
Award for the Best Organisation in the field of 'Environment Conservation' to Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation', Udaipur for the 20 years contribution in the field of environment and has set an example in the field of renewable energy & waste water treatment in the Country.

The major valuable contribution done by MMCF at Udaipur is:

1. Development of Prototypes of Solar Driven Vehicles – MMCF has developed 14 prototypes of solar vehicles, including two, three and four wheelers, running successfully on the roads of Udaipur. And further aim to develop Udaipur a Solar City and transform the Lake Pichola into a fossil fuel free zone. Society for Environmental Education and Research (SEERI), India, on completion of one decade celebrated the ceremony for the prominent environmental awards. This year the distribution Ceremony of 'SEERI Environment Awards 2004', was held at the Conference Hall of The Rajasthan Agricultural University, Udaipur, Rajasthan on November 06, 2004. These awards have been instituted to recognize the contribution of various organizations in instilling the importance of Environment Conservation in the general public in and around India.

- MMCF has started a free ride on solar rickshaws from the Sheetala Mata Gate (Main entrance to The City Palace Complex) to Fateh Pol (entrance to The Durbar Hall), for the tourists. Udaipur Solar No. 8 and Udaipur Solar No. 5 were used successfully from morning to evening.

- Display and demonstration of the prototypes of Solar Vehicles at Shikarbadi Cricket ground on Silver Jubilee of MMFAA Distribution Ceremony held on March 5, 2005.

- MMCF representative Mr. Rahul C Mehta presented a paper on 'Solar and Udaipur in the - Synergy for Energy' an International Conference held on November 18-19, 2005 at Nehru Center, Mumbai.

- EUROSOLAR awards Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, Udaipur the European Solar Prize 2005 in the category 'One world Cooperation' for the Development of Solar projects.
The awarding ceremony took place on December 7th 2005 in the Berlin office of the KfWBankengruppe. The award was received by Maharaj Kumar Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, the scion of House of Mewar at a glittering function held in Berlin, Germany. The award was given by Dr Hermann Scheer, President of Eurosolar and winner of Alternative Noble Prize and Mr Sigmar Gabriel, Designated Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

- Mr. Louis Palmer, Tour Director of The Solar Taxi - Around the world sponsored by Q-Cells. He visited Udaipur during his Around the World Tour in a Solar Taxi. Q-Cells started as a small firm six years ago manufacturing Photovoltaic panels. Due to the dynamic commitment of its team the company has now become an international player working on alternative sources of natural energy. A renowned Swiss adventurer, Mr. Palmer left Lucerne on the 3rd July embarking on a journey of 50,000 kilometres that will take him around the world in 15 months. He plans to cross 50 countries and 5 continents. Solar Taxi Around the World is powered by Q cells. Mr. Palmer met Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur at Shambhu Niwas Palace during his visit to Udaipur on the 28th October 2007 when they discussed their mutual interest and commitment towards the preservation of the environment and heritage. Mr. Palmer applauded the success of the Maharana Mewar of Charitable Foundation's initiative to develop solar rickshaws and promoting solar power as an alternative source of energy. The Mewar Solar Cell organized 3 international rallies in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to demonstrate the viability of the Solar Rickshaw.

- In the year 2009 all the information on Mewar Solar Cell was uniquely digitized in the form of a user friendly DVD for easy access. The DVD contains the detail about International Solar
Rallies conducted in the year 2003 and 2004; Facts; Solar Boats; Solar Vehicles; Development; Awards; Activities; Future Plans; Impressions and Photo Gallery. In total 1000 nos of DVD's were prepared and 150 have been distributed as a part of MMCF Information Pack to the delegates and dignitaries, who visited The City Palace Complex, Udaipur.

- Presently 14 prototypes of Udaipur Solar vehicles are on display at The Vintage & Classic Car Collection, Garden Hotel, Udaipur.

Eco-Management Initiatives by MMCF: Water Resource Management

4. June 2012 17:47 by Sudhir Mutha in Charities

WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT is a crucial aspect of environmental activism in the Mewar region due to the scarcity of this invaluable resource. The Maharanas of Mewar have historically been extremely active in this field, and their contribution to the local environment is evident for all to see. Their vision has been adapted and interpreted for the challenges of the modern day by the MMCF by funding research and supporting projects that contribute to the future conservation and efficient management of the region's water.

The city of Udaipur in southern Rajasthan has evolved a network of eight man made lakes ponds: Dudh Talai, Pichola, Kumharia Talab, Fateh Sagar, Govardhan Sagar, Rang Sagar, Swaroop Sagar and Amar Kund. These eight lakes / ponds are interlinked with each other. Maharana Lakha constructed the Lake Pichola in the year 1382-85 across Kotra (Sisarma) River. This concept was carried forward by other Maharanas, who constructed Udai Sagar, Kumharia Talab, Goverdhan Sagar, Rang Sagar, Swaroop Sagar and Fateh Sagar as micro watershed units, thus presenting a unique example of water conservation and management in Udaipur basin.

This system was developed to fulfil the water needs of the local population after the monsoons and has been successfully coping with the needs of the city for the past 6 centuries. The lakes are ingeniously engineered in such a manner that although they are located at different elevations from mean sea level and with varying depths, their water level becomes uniform when filled up. They are inter-linked with each other so that as one lake gets filled up the surplus water gets transferred into the other lakes automatically.

Today these lakes, the lifelines of Udaipur City, face an overwhelming threat to their existence. The major factors responsible for this include: population explosion, increased urbanization, encroachment in and around lake beds and river catchment areas, construction of anicuts and check dams, mining activities and deforestation in the hills around the lake region and river catchment areas, silting and soil erosion, water pollution due to bathing and washing activities, sewage, domestic waste inflow, weed infestations and industrial effluents.

To counter these threats MMCF has taken an active interest in regenerating and restoring the lake network, and to help implement policies that will make it ensure its continued survival.

1. MMCF commissioned a research project 'A study of the lake network in the Udaipur Basin in Southern Rajasthan' aimed at informing public and private initiatives working towards the conservation of the region's water bodies. The Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation has undertaken a comprehensive research project on rivers under the guidance of Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, Chairman and Managing Trustee. The project includes strategies for the preservation and sustenance of Udaipur's natural heritage: specifically the lake network of Udaipur basin. This network of lakes is an example of natural resources conservation including watershed management and presents innovative water management insight. To raise public awareness regarding the problem and the need for urgent solutions, MMCF published a full page multi coloured Hindi article in Dainik Bhaskar, all Rajasthan Hindi edition on Sunday, 7th September 2008 on the topic 'Contribution of Mewar in Water Resource Management'.

2. The Foundation has organized and contributed to various workshops and seminars on the subject, which have helped not only in greater scientific understanding of the challenges faced but also in arriving at consensual and implementable solutions that have often influenced public policy on the subject. Equally, such initiatives have raised awareness in the general public on this crucial matter.

A. Sustainability of Lake Remediation and Intervention

A workshop on 'Sustainability of Lake Remediation and Interventions' took place between the 22nd to 25th July, 2008 at Hyderabad. It was organized by Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA),  Japan & Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA), India and supported by International Lake Environment Committee (ILEC) Foundation, Japan. Attendees: Dr. Narpat Singh Rathore, resource person of Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, The City Palace Complex, Udaipur and presently an Associate Professor, Department of Geography,  University College of Social Science and Humanities, Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur; presented a paper during the workshop. He covered he topic 'Preservation and Sustenance of Natural Heritage: The Lake network of Udaipur Basin, South Rajasthan'. In his presentation he explained to the audience that beginning in the 16th century, The Maharanas of Udaipur had developed an indigenous system of water conservation and management. MMCF supported Dr. Rathore in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010 in conducting research and presenting his findings at national and international forums.

B. Integrated Lake Basin Management

Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, Chairman and Managing Trustee, Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, chaired an international workshop on Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM) on the 12th August 2009 at The Durbar Hall, Fateh Prakash Palace. The workshop was organized as part of IAAB's national agenda to propagate a strategy for sustainable management of lakes and reservoirs in India. The main focus of the discussions in Udaipur was the lakes of

Udaipur with the aim of developing a final ILBM document to submit to the concerned authorities for further action. The workshop was organized in association with Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF), Udaipur; International Lake Environment Committee (ILEC), Japan; Indian Association of Aquatic Biologists (IAAB), Hyderabad; Dr. Mohan Sinha Mehta Memorial Trust (MSMMT), Udaipur; Jheel Sanrakshan Samiti (JSS), Udaipur. Mr. Raghuveer Singh Meena, MP , Udaipur was the Chief Guest for the workshop. Other eminent guests included, Prof. Masahisa Nakamura, Chairman, ILEC, Japan; Shri Gulabchand Kataria, MLA, Udaipur City; Mr. Jagat S. Mehta, Chairman, JSS, Udaipur.

C. Udaipur Lake Development Authority

On the 14th May 2009 Shriji chaired a meeting with Shri Jagat S. Mehta on a proposal to establish Udaipur Lake Development Authority by Government of Rajasthan. Mr. Mehta welcomed participants with an introductory talk on all the efforts that have already been made by Udaipur citizens to conserve the lakes. Shriji recommended that it would now also be beneficial to form a public/private partnership. The committee agreed that further discussions should be held with the Government of Rajasthan. MMCF organised a meeting at The Durbar Hall, Fateh Prakash Palace, The City Palace Complex, Udaipur and attended by dignitaries of Udaipur, members of a number of institutions and local organizations, geologists, environmentalists, social workers and tourism industry stakeholders.  

D. CII Conference on Rain Water harvesting

Confederation of Indian Industry, Jaipur and CII Water Institute, Jaipur organized a seminar on 'Rainwater Harvesting: It's Time to get Smart' on the 17th June 2010. The seminar's objective was to provide an insight into various aspects relating to rainwater harvesting. Delegates discussed design, installation, operation and maintenance of harvesting structures for various sectors including industry and domestic institutions. Mr. Arvind Mathur, Architectural Heritage Curator and Conservation Engineer, MMCF attended the seminar. 

E. Prakriti Sadhna Kendra (Environmental Education Centre)

On the 19th August 2009 Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur and Ms. Padmaja Kumari Parmar of Udaipur attended the opening of Prakriti Sadhna Kendra (Environmental Education Centre) at Vidhya Bhawan Campus. The ceremony was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Director General, Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi.

F. International Conference held at Mohanlal Sukhadia University Udaipur on Folk and Herbal Medicine

Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) sponsored an international conference on Folk and Herbal Medicine organised by the Department of Botany, Maharana Bhupal College of Science, Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur. Prof. S.S. Katewa, Head - Department of Botany, Maharana Bhupal College of Science was the Organising Secretary of the conference. The conference took place from the 25th to 27th November with MMCF as the silver sponsor donating ` 75000. A message from Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur was published in the souvenir programme released during the conference.

Shriji congratulated all those involved in the organization of the international conference for their initiative to run a campaign highlighting the contribution of Mewar in different fields of science, medicine, arts and culture.

Leading scientists, indigenous healers, researchers and students participated at the conference. Their presence provided a platform for the ancient traditions gathered from all over India and the region of Mewar. More than 500 Indian delegates and 50 foreign delegates from 20 countries, a large number of Gunnis (traditional healers) from Mewar region, Vaidhyas, herbal practitioners and NGOs have participated enthusiastically during different sessions in the conference. There were 12 concurrent technical sessions where more than 30 invited lectures were presented by eminent scientists from across the globe. In all, there were 85 oral contributions which were presented and thoroughly discussed during 3 days. There were an overwhelming number of participants in poster sessions which were organized in more than 8 slots of one hour each. The conference has provided an opportunity to young students to interact with the scientists and this will pave a way for developing capacity towards research in this area in future. The conference has also provided platform for the Indian scientists to show their potential and capability in terms of scientific research which has impacted the international community looking towards traditional knowledge about Indian medicinal plants.

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