This mechanic’s smart streetlight sensor is saving a UP municipality both power and money

Saurabh Sharma Asif Ali May 30, 2017 4 min

Firasat Hussain is not someone you would notice if you passed him by in the streets of Shahjahanpur district in Uttar Pradesh — standing as he does at a diminutive 4 feet 6 inches in his loose pyjamas and oversized shirt. But meet him at his electronics repair shop, and you’re likely to be electrified by his talent.

Firasat Hussain has designed a switch on-switch off smart streetlight sensor that is saving the Shahjahanpur municipality both power and money  

The 28-year-old has many innovations to his credit, among them a switch on-switch off smart streetlight sensor that is saving the Shahjahanpur municipality both power and money. The sensor switches off streetlights when dawn breaks and switches them when it’s sundown.

Hussain, who lives in Jalalabad town, dropped out of school after Class VIII and got married when he was just 15. While he repairs electronic appliances for a living, his passion is innovation — he keeps tinkering on the side to come up with all kinds of devices and hacks. He has also built a device that automatically switches on and off tubewells and generators through a mobile.

He developed the sensor in 2015 in just 45 days. “I used old electrical components and invested around Rs 700 in it. I know it does not have a polished look, but it works,” he smiles.

He has used light dependent resistor (LDR) technology in the sensor. “Most electricity saving devices available in the market are equipped with timers. But they are not efficient as the sun sets at different times in winter and in summer,” he says. His sensor uses a DIY circuit he built by watching YouTube.

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He tested the sensor at home for three months and then demonstrated it on a streetlight in the presence of the municipal corporation chairman, Tanveer Khan. The civic body was so impressed, it became his first customer.

“We bought the sensor and installed it on one streetlight, and then connected it to two more. Since then, nobody has seen a streetlight burning power during the daytime. It helped the municipal body save Rs 2 lakh in 2016,” says Khan.

The sensor uses light dependent resistor technology to switch off streetlights when dawn breaks and switch them at sundown
The sensor uses light dependent resistor technology to switch off streetlights when dawn breaks and switch them at sundown

Streetlights across India are often seen on in the daytime. In a bid to save the electricity bills of the state, in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the 100 cities National Programme to convert conventional street and domestic lights to energy efficient LED lights with an aim to save 9,000 million units annually.

“We bought the sensor and installed it on one streetlight, and then connected it to two more… It helped the municipal body save Rs 2 lakh in 2016″ — Tanveer Khan, Shahjahanpur municipal corporation chairman  

On being told about the sensor by electricity board officials, Uttar Pradesh power minister Shreekant Sharma said would like to meet the inventor. “If his device is really successful, I will ask my officers to get it installed everywhere,” says Sharma.

Hussain, however, is not too convinced by the minister’s statement. He had met former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in 2016 and showed the sensor to him, but nothing came of it. “Akhliesh promised to get me an award of Rs five lakh, but I never got the money. I hope somebody tells the new government and chief minister Yogi about my invention,” he says.

“I can put it for sale in the open market but for that I need money to produce it in numbers,” adds Hussain. He has even uploaded a video on the sensor on YouTube.

He is grateful to one R K Yadav, former deputy director (agriculture), whom he met in a village fair in 2012. “Yadavji gave me Rs 1.5 lakh from his personal savings and took me to meet Akhilesh,” he says.

His wife Farhana too is disheartened that his efforts to get the sensor be implemented on scale have come to naught. “What we will do with this publicity? It will not give us money to clothe and feed our three children or help my husband fulfill his dreams,” she says.

Interestingly, the idea of the sensor came to Hussain after a heated argument with Farhana when he noticed a bulb left on during daytime at his home.


Photographs and video: 101Reporters Photos Lead visual: Angela Anthony Pereira The ‘Tech Meets Bharat’ series brings to you stories on how technology is impacting and changing lives in hinterland India.
Saurabh Sharma is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and Asif Ali is a Shahjahanpur​, UP-based freelance writer. Both are members of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.