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Updated: November 16, 2012 10:25 IST

Power to the people

Sarita Brara
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A woman in Ganwali works with the ease of electricity. Photo: Sarita Brara
The Hindu
A woman in Ganwali works with the ease of electricity. Photo: Sarita Brara

Electricity comes much cheaper to those villages in Uttarakhand who are generating their own power through micro hydel plants

In water resource-rich Uttarakhand many villages still remain to be connected to a power grid, Genwali is one such. However, the difference is that this remote village along with several others gets their supply of electricity from their very own power generating units.

For Genwali, about 15 kms from Boodha-kedar, a place of pilgrimage in Tihri district, electricity is generated from the 20 kv hydel power station set up in the village in the year 2000 by an alumnus of IIT Delhi, Yogeshwar Kumar. According to Kumar, the villagers carried all the material for setting up the project at Genwali which even today is not connected by road. A young man from the village Vir Singh trained by Kumar operates the power station and the villagers are charged a flat Rs 50 per month.

Not too very far from Genwali, but connected by road is village Agunda. Agunda too has its own power station. The people in the village refused to get connected to the power grid and opted instead for setting up their own micro hydel power project. The gram panchayat gave this in writing to the concerned authorities when the village was about to be connected to a power grid. The villagers, who run their own power station, say that the supply from the power grid to most villages is disrupted frequently and there are power cuts for several hours.

The micro hydel power project in Agunda too was set up by Yogeshwar, but this time with the help of voluntary organisation Jan Samarath with assistance from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and UNDP. The 40 kw project, completed in 2008, not only supplies electricity to 60 households of the village but also to two schools and an inter college. There is also sufficient power to run flour and oil mills and paddy hullers. What is more, the villagers have to pay just two rupees a unit and Rs 20 for the meter. The meter charges go towards maintenance purposes and the salary of two trained youth from the village who operate the power station. The villagers use electricity according to their own requirements and regulate it accordingly. An Urja Samiti with representation from the village Panchayat and the Gram Sabha has been set up to resolve all issues connected with the hydro power project, says one of its member, Bishen Singh Rawat.

Because of the low tariff, the villagers have started using electrical appliances like refrigerators, television sets, irons, heaters and even electric kettles. This has lessened the burden on the women folk who have to walk for miles to fetch firewood for fuel every day.

The women in the village want to set up a centre for grinding masalas and other food processing units. There is also a proposal to install common washing machines for the community. They feel this will not only help them earn an income, but also reduce their drudgery.

Yogeshwar Kumar has so far helped set up 15 micro hydel power stations in villages, hamlets and even for some civil society organisations in and outside the State. He says that in Uttarakhand specially, where most villagers use firewood for fuel, if they have their own micro power generating units they would get electricity at much cheaper rates and hence would not put a burden on the forests and pollute the air. Because of environmental concerns and displacement of people caused by big dams, more and more micro mini and small hydel power projects are coming up. Keeping that in view Jan Samarath, with the help of the government, is conducting training programmes for the village youth to be able to help in carrying out surveys, preparation of feasibility studies, installation of power projects and equipment, basic repairs, maintenance and management of such projects. This would also help solving the problem of unemployment among the youth, says Kumar.


THANK YOU, it is great to read of deeds such as yours that are making a great difference in the lives of ordinary folks.
And more than that, it is teaching/showing them and others how to go about achieving a better standard of living by helping them selves
I hope your example and that of the this village will spread quickly

from:  Z. Handy
Posted on: Nov 18, 2012 at 20:38 IST

It is indeed very very heartenng to know that remote villages in Uttarakhand have their own self made hydro power projects to satisfy the electricity needs of their commune. The people who live such remotest areas in the mountainous territory have set an excellent example to this power starved country and every one of us should take a leaf out of their achievements and start innovating new ideas to make this country a better place to live in.Hats off to Shri Yogeshwar.

from:  Dr.K.K.Chandramohan
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 07:12 IST

Hats off to you Yogeshwar ji. I'm an ignorant of technology but your help in setting up these power plants help people like us. Thank you from the deep of my heart, God bless you.

from:  Jeeva
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 02:41 IST

It would be great to have students of IIT Delhi helping this project
become an Open Design Project, where practical learning's from the project
can be made into easy to communicate Promotional Material, thereby making
this model reach more places, of course propelled by some in-depth mass
media reporting.

Such surfacing of unique project, could take the form of "Programmes"
methodology of Media Reporting, adopted by Al-jazzera international media.

from:  Ankit Sura
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 01:59 IST

Congratulations to Yogeshwar Kumar. IIT's are meant to provide this kind of innovative solutions to the local problems. I hope more villages and small cities follow this route and end government's monopoly on power generation.

from:  JB
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 19:27 IST

Hi Yogeshwar,
I wholeheartedly appreciate your work!!!

Its through people like you, we realize that still selfless people exists in this country.
A big 'Thanks' for you.

--Rojin

from:  Rojin
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 17:56 IST

Hats off to Yogeshwar Kumar!!!

from:  Kirithika M
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 17:55 IST

The decentralized power generation could be useful specially in the states like Uttrakhand, but govt. is bent to use big projects even when they cause large displacement of people. Hats off to Yogeshwar, more and more IITians should work towards the betterment of our people, our villages and our country. It may not give them million dollar job, but the satisfaction of changing lives of people worth much more than these dollars.

from:  brijesh
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 16:36 IST

Very Good to know indeed. Thanks to The Hindu for the coverage.

from:  Antariksh Bhardwaj
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 15:45 IST

Hi,

Kudos to Yogeshwar Kumar , here is a man who is serving his motherland with prime example.People like him set good exmaples and hope the Government and other officials wake up and encourage these kind of Men to take up more projects and ensure that we become a self-reliant country soon.

Regards

from:  Raaj
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 14:08 IST

Self motivation is the key to Great mind....
Kudos to the innovator Yogeshwar

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 13:42 IST

BRAVO !
Yogeshwar, Vir Singh,Inhabitants of the subject villages & all those
connected with the Voluntary Organisations need a standing
ovation.Such like initiatives are needed in our forlorn & desolate
areas which are not even connected by roads.People sitting in the
Secretariat in the Paradise City may not even know the terrain
configuration & degree of difficulty obtaining around Bura Kedar,
Genwali & nearby villages in Tehri. This is also a pointer to the
'power grid' of Urja Pradesh that failed us even during Deepawali
Celebrations.Unless, the 'powers that be' focus on the interiors/guts
of Uttarakhand, the Hill Sector shall continue to be neglected.What is
the point of constructing a Cricket Stadium of International Standards
at Dehradun when people in the Hill Districts do not even have basic
amenities/essentials of life!12 years of so called governance have
done little, commensurate to what has been done to the Plains
Sector.High time that the Hill Districts get their due.

from:  Lt Gen Dr Mohan Bhandari
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 13:11 IST

India produces more than thousands of IIT'ians every year. While
majority of them look forward for a job abroad, in any high profile
company, we have a true indian here working FOR the country. He have put
all his knowledge for the welfare the villages.
hats of to him !

from:  arathi
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 11:31 IST
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