In Self-Designed Solar Car, 63-Year-Old Embarks On 1740 KM Journey To Spread The Message Of Pollution-Free India


Syed Sajjad Ahmed, a school dropout and a fruit vendor, kick-started his long journey towards Delhi from Bengaluru – a good 1,740 kilometers – on November 1 in a self-designed solar-powered car to spread the message of a pollution free country.

Ahmed, a recipient of the A P J Abdul Kalam Environment Award in 2006, told Deccan Herald:

“I want to inspire more and more people to go green, especially the youth. And what better way to commemorate Kalam’s birth anniversary than to spread his message of inspiring and igniting young minds.

“I plan to drive 100 kilometers per day and stop on the way to meet schoolchildren and college students, who I will try to motivate and encourage to come out with their own innovations.

“I am also planning to visit Haridwar as part of my journey to seek blessings from the holy river Ganga. If I get a chance I will also participate in the upcoming India International Science Fair that will be held in New Delhi in the first week of December.”

Ahmed’s solar-powered car weighs about 400 kilograms, can seat four people, and go up to 30 to 40 kilometers per day solely on solar power; it’s maximum range is about 100 kilometers with a battery pack. The car’s running cost is 30 paise [1 INR = 100 paise] a kilometer. There are three solar panels on its roof and one on the bonnet.

The solar car runs on combination of power generated by the solar panels and a host of batteries that have to be charged after every eight hours as they supply 60% of the power to run the vehicle. The remaining 40% is generated by the solar panels. The car is totally environmentally friendly as it exhausts no fumes and consumes no fossil fuels.

Ahmed started selling fruits in 2000, and gradually built a shop where he repaired radio sets and televisions. By 2002, he started making television antennas on his own. He spent close to INR 1 million to design and develop a two-wheeler and three-wheelers for people with disabilities. In 2004, he made a solar-powered car for INR 100,000 but it took time to refine it. “It had to be good enough to drive to Delhi and back.”

“When I started my electrical shop, I invested time, energy and money into creating something different, something that would help people and the environment. Since then, I have been in love with science and innovation,” he told The New Indian Express. Ahmed spends 25% of his earnings to design energy sufficient devices and another 25% on social service.

Fortunately, Ahmed’s passion found the support of the Centre for Environment Education and the United Nations Development Program’s Small Grants Program, along with the city’s Raman Research Institute (RRI) and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited.

“RRI had given me a rickshaw in 2006 which I successfully converted into an electric-solar vehicle the same year. I wish it would come into commercial use as it is environment-friendly, economical and uses simple, innovative technology,” he said.

Back in 2012, Ahmed had travelled 1,000 kilometers in South India to spread awareness about a corruption-free India. “The solar car has been my chariot to Chennai, Kochi and Kanyakumari. Now, it will run up to 100 km every day. The Delhi trip will be a tribute to my hero Dr APJ Abdul Kalam who had inspired me to make my dream a reality,” he said.

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