Meet The Bijlees: NTPC powers awareness via comic route

By: |
December 06, 2020 7:30 AM

Currently, the total installed capacity of the power behemoth stands at 62,910 mega-watt (MW), comprising 1,070 MW of renewable energy-based plants.

Banhardih coal block, allocated earlier to the Jharkhand government, is now being developed by Patratu Vidyut Utapadan Nigam Ltd.Banhardih coal block, allocated earlier to the Jharkhand government, is now being developed by Patratu Vidyut Utapadan Nigam Ltd.

Aligning with the transition currently underway in the global energy sector, it seems infrastructure behemoths in the country are also bringing about a change in how they reach out to the general public. The country’s largest power generator NTPC has recently tied up with iconic indigenous comics brand Amar Chitra Katha to publish a comic book titled Meet The Bijlees, ostensibly to educate school children on genesis of electricity and the importance of energy savings and other safety standards.

At the same time, the comic book also illustrates how the company — earlier known as the National Thermal Power Corporation — is shifting its focus from running fossil fuel based power plants to building huge capacities of renewable energy.

While conversing with their schoolgoing children Tanu and Manu, the parents — both associated with the power industry, the mother being an NTPC employee — explains without using hard technical jargon how electricity is generated and transmitted from power plants to the grids and finally to the households. In the process, they also talk about safety aspects of electricity and energy savings. Anecdotes of how NTPC takes care of the environment while running its power plants and its plans to minimise emissions have been sporadically plugged in throughout the story.

“To make these sources (non-renewable fossil fuels) last longer, NTPC has now started using renewable energy sources,” one of the parents tell their children, implying that solar and wind plants are being added not to replace coal, but only to complement conventional power sources. Without painting an unrealistic picture of a ‘green future’, the father explains that having only renewable-energy based plants “is not simple” and “renewable resources come with their own challenges of integration with the power grid”.

Currently, the total installed capacity of the power behemoth stands at 62,910 mega-watt (MW), comprising 1,070 MW of renewable energy-based plants. By 2032, it plans to have a total power production capacity of 1,30,000 MW and 30% of this would be non-thermal energy based. In another 12 years, NTPC wants to have a base of 32,000 MW renewables, 5,000 MW hydro and another 2,000 MW of nuclear power plants.

“With this comic strip we at NTPC wish to raise awareness among children, who are the future of this country, about the complete process of electricity generation, from how it reaches the switch inside their house to light the lights,” a senior NTPC official told FE, adding that “we also have tried to raise awareness on the judicious consumption of electricity and the efforts being put to ensure a greener and cleaner environment.”

Unlike other contemporary elementary handbooks that intend to initiate children on the complex issue of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, the comic book at no point of time vilifies fossil fuel-based power systems. Keeping itself firmly gripped with the economic realities of India, the comic book narrative subtly insinuates that coal-based power will be the mainstay of electricity generation for the years to come, although renewable power sources have not been snubbed at anywhere in the text. Pretty prudently, the comic book has been successful in staying away from the clichéd ‘renewables vs thermal’ debate which inevitably tries to portray one to be better than the other.

Comics have traditionally been a way to engage children while breaking down complex concepts into simple storylines. “At our end, we definitely saw a shift in terms of how brands wanted to talk to their customers about ten years ago,” Kuriakose Vaisian, editorial director at Amar Chitra Katha, said. “There is a clear switch from traditional one-page advertisements to more story-telling, more gamification,” Vaisian remarked.

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