SXC’s response to COP21 – harnessing the power of the Sun to spread the light of Nihil Ultra
St. Xavier’s College (SXC), Kolkata, has been the vanguard of Sustainable Living for more than a century and a half now – that is, even before the term “sustainability” was coined for use in the context as it has become fashionable these days. This globally acknowledged center of excellence, has taught for generations that where being “green” is not merely an end in itself, but also the journey in itself. Here, successive generations of Jesuit fathers have held the flickering light of knowledge high, spreading enlightenment, touching and transforming lives. They have taught that in St. Xavier’s the accepted norm is to practice what is preached. Thus the College campus is plastic free, Rainwater harvesting is implemented, a small unit of computer lab is functioning under solar power and the latest added feather in the cap is the pioneering 46 KW Solar Power Plant that has been put up on 9000 sq.ft terrace by the visionary Principal Dr. John Felix Raj, SJ. This noble effort is taken up by the department of Environmental Studies headed by Fr. Xavier Savarimuthu, SJ, a climate summit participant in Paris,as an immediate response to the promise of clean and green energy at COP 21 in Paris by India to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
There are many unique features of this project. It is perhaps, the biggest of its kind initiative to offset the adverse effects of Carbon Emission through the adoption of green, sustainable and perennial solar power by an educational institution in the Eastern part of the country. The project subsidized by the Central and the State Governments will transmit the power generated to the local grid.
Vikram Solar Pvt Ltd, one of the front runners in the domain of solar power generation has helped set up the plant, while the major credit of its commissioning goes to Hon. Shri Manish Gupta, Minister In-charge of Power, Government of West Bengal and Shri Santanu Basu, IAS, Chairman and Managing Director, West Bengal Power Development Corporation. Incidentally, both Shri Gupta and Shri Basu are Xaverians, which goes to strengthen the time tested adage that “you can take a Xaverian out of Xavier’s but you cannot take the values instilled by Xavier’s out of him.”
Equally true to the spirit of Xavier’s plans have been drawn up to ensure that the solar power plant does not remain a stand-alone foray into sustainability and is used as an example to spread awareness about climate change and related issues. Keeping this in mind, a display panel has been set up at the main entrance of the college to flash the amount of energy produced by the plant everyday. Plans are also afoot to incorporate other necessary information like the temperature, the level of humidity and the level of suspended carbon particles in the air. Once the information panel gets fully functional, the display will be put at a prominent location on the street side to ensure greater visibility to the city at large.
Equally apt is the timing of the project going on stream – starting production even as the ink dried on the historic agreement reached by 195 Nations in Paris at the COP21. The characteristic Xaverian response, to what world is thinking, in anticipation and ahead of it.
Fr. S. Xavier, SJ, Professor and Head
Department of Environmental Studies
St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata-700016