As part of the Global Solar Water Heating Market Transformation and Strengthening Initiative (GSWH Project), the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has started a voice-activated National Helpline on Solar Water Heaters to raise awareness of the technology and answer the questions of consumers. The service, which has been operating since 15 September 2011, is managed by the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI). It has a toll-free number (1800 2 33 44 77), with service hours from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM between Monday and Friday, and 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM on Saturdays. The two employed call centre agents offer help in both Hindi and English.
The main concept behind the helpline is to direct clients to the nearest trader or supplier of solar water heaters in their region. Manufacturers can pay a small fee to be registered with the call centre and attract clients to their network of dealers and installers. The MNRE allows only manufacturers which have been approved as channel partners (seehttp://www.solarthermalworld.org/node/2896) to take part in the national incentive programme. Another reason for establishing the helpline was to be able to better disseminate information about the benefits of solar water heaters, as well as information about incentives and financing related to solar thermal technology use.