Rural scientist Mangal Singh has devised a turbine that runs on low-flowing water heads, thus saving farmers from spending money on diesel and electricity to lift water for irrigation

Many farmers spend a substantial amount of money for diesel or electricity to lift water flowing in small streams and rivulets to irrigate their fields. However, the innovation of a rural scientist from Bundelkhand region could help save millions of litres of diesel per year (or equivalent electricity).

Innovator Mangal Singh has devised and patented a low-cost and efficient fuel-less turbine, named Mangal Singh Water Wheel Turbine Pump-cum-PTP machine that can harness the energy of flowing water to lift water for irrigation and also operate cottage industries.

Popularly called Mangal Turbine, it requires low water heads up to one metre, which can be achieved by creating low-cost check dams, or existing check dams can be used.

As Mr. Singh explains, this turbine functions on the basis of a specially designed water wheel which can rotate even on a low water head of one metre, stepping up the rotation through a suitable gearbox in the range of 1500-1800 RPM (rotations per minute) and using the available mechanical power by connecting one end of the output shaft with centrifugal irrigation pump and the other with a suitable pulley to operate other machines and also an alternator to generate electricity.

Several experts who have made on-the-site inspections of the working of this device have recommended it strongly. Dr. T.P. Ojha, former Deputy Director General (Engineering) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has written: “Mangal Singh's device offers great promise and possibility of lifting river water for irrigation, fisheries, forestry and drinking purposes. The water head created by putting a check dam across the river or perennial water course generates enough force to rotate the water wheels to operate one or two centrifugal pumps in a series.”

B.K. Saha, former Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh, said, “The system is extremely cost-effective, even after taking into consideration the cost of the stop dam. Where the stop dam is already available, the system is even more cost-effective. Installation of this device is strongly recommended wherever there is flowing water in small streams by constructing a stop dam and installing one or two water wheels as designed and developed by Mr. Singh. It saves on energy like electricity or diesel and is ecologically completely benign.”

Despite the official recognition of the great utility and potential of this work, Mr. Singh had to struggle against bureaucratic apathy and hostility.

He is also a crusader against corruption and continues using the Right to Information weapon to expose corruption. He feels that this probably angered certain influential powerful persons and he was victimised time and again.

Despite all these odds, his work has been successfully demonstrated in Bundelkhand and Uttarakhand. Working in the middle of financial and other constraints, Mr. Singh keeps travelling to various parts of the country to demonstrate his work.

As the need for reducing greenhouse gas emission increases, the importance of such environment-friendly works will continue to grow. For farmers facing economic crisis and struggling against shortages as well as increasing prices of diesel and electricity, Mangal Turbine, when properly installed and harnessed, can provide significant relief.