THE LEAD STAR Outlets
Vol 6 Issue 26, Jun 26 - Jul 2, 2015
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Electricity is a beginning in the uplift of villages and not the end

   By  Kavita Kanan Chandra
  
01 Jul 2015
Posted 29-Sep-2012
Vol 3 Issue 39

Why do villages need electricity? For household lighting, many would say. But Yogeshwar Kumar, an IIT-Delhi alumnus of 1974 batch, has set up environment friendly micro hydroelectric plants in the hilly regions of Uttarakhand, Kargil, Ladakh, Meghalaya and some parts of Orissa with a bigger vision.

He does not stop with supplying power to villages. He works through his NGO Jansamarth for development of the villages by using the electricity to set up small enterprises and creating jobs.

A village woman using a electric stove powered by hydroelectricity 

In his three decades of service to rural people he has built 15 hydro-electric power stations which are manned and operated by villagers themselves, who use the power to run rural enterprises like atta-chakki (flour-mill), oil-mill, sawmill, and welding workshops. 

Fresh out of IIT, this civil engineer preferred to first experiment with bamboo as a reinforcement material. Later, he became interested in hydro-electricity.

He made his first micro-hydel plant in 1975 on a stream to light up the incubators of a lab in Uttarakhand, where he was working with Professor Virendra Kumar of Zakir Hussain College (Delhi) in the field of Cytogenetics.

The power produced from the plant was put to several uses like oil extraction and wheat milling. They also built a school at Bhandar village for the village children who reared cattle during the day and attended classes in the night. The school was lit up using power from the hydel plant.

His second hydel-plant was in Dogri Kardi village. “We did power generation in small ways in many villages,” says Yogeshwar Kumar, who was also involved in the popular Chipko movement in the late seventies to protect the trees.

In the period 1984-1991, Kumar was in Meghalaya as special-officer-in-charge at the Government Science & Technology Department. He brought technology closer to the people and won their affection. His smokeless chulha became popular and was in great demand.

Yogeshwar Kumar

Though he has been working with government agencies, he says it is difficult to implement programmes when working with the government. For instance, though the government funds building of hydel-plants for remote villages in Leh, there is no allocation for repairs and maintenance. 

“Villagers would ring me in Delhi from remote villages in Leh for repairs,” he says, adding that there is no skilled manpower in villages.He says there is imperative need to build strong cooperative units in villages and feels the government should lay emphasis on capacity building in rural areas.

Kumar built a 15 KW power station in Budha Kedarnath in Uttarakhand for an NGO ‘Lokjeevan Vikash Bharati’ in 1992-1993. A number of village enterprises were powered by the hydel-project.

In later projects, Kumar began to train the villagers in operation and maintenance of the power plant. Their wages were to be paid from income of the plant, which was collected from consumers as per their meter reading.

The small power stations set up by Kumar require falling water from an elevation to generate electricity. “In mountain areas there are many streams and rivulets but even in plains if water is made to fall through a pipe or tunnel from a height, one could generate electricity,” he says.

In 2009 Agunda village in Tehri district of Uttarakhand opted for a 40 KW micro-hydro power plant even though the village was going to be connected to the state grid.

The villagers wished to have their own plant, as it would be more reliable and any fault in the system could be repaired immediately – with their own trained manpower - unlike the government line that would take days to be restored in case of repairs.

A power station in Ladakh

Agunda is part of a Jansamarth-UNDP initiative in six remote villages of Tehri Garhwal to develop micro-hydel plants with the aim of providing livelihoods to villagers by using renewable energy and local resources. 

“We are working in a holistic manner with community participation, training the villagers in maintaining the plant, and setting up processing units to encourage entrepreneurship,” says Kumar.

He said there was a big landslide in Agunda few years back. He argues that if villagers could use electricity for cooking, they need not walk daily 5 km for collecting firewood and it would also stop them from felling trees.

Kumar says using electric stove would cost a family roughly Rs 7 per day. “The villagers should slowly switch over to electricity for cooking food and save the forest. Still about 85 percent of our rural population use firewood for cooking,” he says.
 



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   


You might also like:

Emergency nightmare

On the eve of the 37th anniversary of the Emergency, M G Devasahayam, the then District Commissioner of Chandigarh, recalls the time when Indira Gandhi ruled like a dictator

Read More

Hail science

Rural Maharashtra is waking up to the wonders of science. People are finding solutions to their problems through modern technology and learning to lead a healthy lifestyle, says Sahana Ghosh

Read More
Stories on Innovations & Innovators
THE LEAD STAR
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Caring by habit

A Chennai woman’s simple gesture of donating the money she gets from selling old newspapers, collected from homes, to two orphanages is an inheritance from her parents, who always took care of poor youth at their home, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

From scratch

ConceptWaves is a successful company. But 10 years ago its founder Raghu Kanchustambham launched his first project as his team was falling apart. Sapna Gopal traces the entrepreneur’s journey

Read More

Lavender dream

Realising that medicine was not her calling, Gazalla Amin pursued a dream to cultivate aromatic plants, never to look back, says Afsana Rashid, explaining the blossoming of entrepreneurship

Read More

Fresh and sweet

A sweet idea struck the young Coorgi woman when she was working in a hotel. Chayaa Nanjappa never looked back, despite all odds, and today her Nectar Fresh products, like honey and jam, are stocked in upscale hotels. Preethi Nagaraj meets her

Read More

Care for birds

A computer engineer by calling, Arundhati Malhar Yatish Mhatre’s heart goes out to birds. Her passion is on display at her seventh floor flat in Mumbai, where winged visitors fly in for breakfast, lunch, dinner and rest, says Afsana Rashid

Read More

Ideal leader

You may not find a politician like K Viswanthan anywhere. In a decade he and his wife served as panchayat president, Kattuputhur in Tamil Nadu solved its water woe, turned green, plastic-free, tobacco-free and much more, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

Ideal home

Naatrangal has been a godsend to over a hundred destitute children. P C Vinoj Kumar visits the home run by Sharadha Devi in Kanchipuram to find the love and care provided there to be exemplary

Read More

Glorious service

Seeing a man from US dying of AIDS at a time when nothing much was known of the syndrome, changed Glory Alexander’s outlook. It made the doctor start Asha Foundation many years later to serve HIV positive people, says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Forest maker

Touched by the death of hundreds of snakes in a flood, a school boy started planting trees. Now, 36 years later, we have a forest in that island on the Brahmaputra. Partho Burman tells us Jadav Payeng’s story of determination and dedication

Read More

On the wheels

A well-oiled transport company with 1300 vehicles and 4000 employees, Parveen Travels started with just one cab in 1980. Its founder A Afzal, in a free-wheeling chat with P C Vinoj Kumar, says that he has no other interests outside business

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.