Adyar Bakery - since 1952
Vol 5 Issue 38, Sep 19 - 25, 2014
    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
  
23 Sep 2014
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:

Cost of genocide

Boycott Sri Lanka Team spots sale of Sri Lankan made biscuits and chocolates in TUCS outlets in Chennai, takes up matter with government official, and succeeds in taking them off the shelves

Read More

Under attack

In a letter to the Prime Minister, J Jayalalithaa has reiterated her demand that Sri Lankan navy’s attacks against Tamil Nadu fishermen should be viewed as acts of aggression against India

Read More

IEYS 2014
FPJs Meet Vidyaakar
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Milky way

The denial of visa shattered his dream to study in the land of milk and honey. But Bhasker Reddy managed to squeeze honey out of milk in India by starting a dairy business in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the first generation entrepreneur

Read More

The challenger

It challenged the idea of Ice Bucket Challenge itself. Manju Latha Kalanidhi, a journo from Hyderabad, changed the course of a charity wave, turning it more relevant to Indian context. Akash Bisht spoke to the Rice Bucket Challenge pioneer

Read More

Sounds good

A device to detect hearing impairment in newborns will hit the market by 2016. Afsana Rashid spoke to designer Neeti Kailas, who explains how her innovation will help children born with hearing disability by facilitating an early intervention

Read More

Being the change

At an age of 28, Arun Daniel Yellamaty is already a known social worker, whose Youngistaan Foundation is into a plethora of activities in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar finds out from the former journalist how he changes the life of urban poor

Read More

Versatile rubber

Making use of rubber’s versatility, some scientists in Bhubaneswar have developed a ‘rubberised’ check dam. Kavita Kanan Chandra checks out the benefits of replacing concrete and cement with rubber and where all the new technology is going

Read More

Beautiful dream

Creating 3000 salons, 1000 women entrepreneurs and 50,000 jobs by 2020 is the dream of C K Kumaravel, who, despite hailing from a business family, had to start on his own. P C Vinoj Kumar traces the growth of Naturals beauty salons founder

Read More

Touching base

New York-born Ajaita Shah once applied for fellowship to work in India. Then she came back and also launched Frontier Markets to serve base of the pyramid households. Souzeina S Mushtaq spoke to the 29-year-old who knows the needs of villages

Read More

Donor par excellence

P Kalyansundaram, who donated his lifetime salary for charity, has inspired social workers in Tamil Nadu for years. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the happy man whose name is synonymous with simplicity

Read More

People’s doctor

Dr V Shanta heads the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai. Active even at 87 years, she talks to Manasa Ramraj about her childhood inspiration, adding: ‘Doctors must learn to treat their patients as human beings and not as mere commodities.’

Read More

Ticket to dream

It was no wild goose chase for Arun Athiappan, when he co-founded TicketGoose.com, a bus ticket booking portal. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur and has been losing sleep to come up with new ideas since he was 12, says P C Vinoj Kumar

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.