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WWF-India, Shimla State Office
Bishop Cotton School
Gate No. 2, Near UCO Bank
By Pass Road
New Shimla – 171 009
Tel. : 0177-2670173
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Adapting Old Technology for a Greener tomorrow
Watermill is a centuries old technology, it is said that this technology started around 7th century. This technology is widespread over the hilly territories of Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and North East India. The watermills popularly known as ‘gharats’ in Himachal Pradesh, have traditionally been used for rice hulling, milling of grain and other mechanical applications. With the advent of new technology these can be used to produce electricity, not only energy requirement can be met but it would boost the economic and social condition of power producers. Lately with the thoughtful intervention of Govt Agencies and NGOs now the up gradation and modernization of watermills has caught technologists’ eye.
Upgrading watermills – KULLU DISTRICT
The two years project is funded by NABARD and being implemented by WWF – India.WWF - India conducted a baseline survey of Kullu district to identify the present status of watermills and devise methods to upgrade them accordingly. In all 1020 watermills are surveyed in Kullu district, out of which 738 are found in working condition and rest were abandoned due to water shortage/ lack of grinding material etc. After a thorough survey a checklist of gharat sites is prepared to undertake a comprehensive study of the area.
In the absence of befitting technology, the watermills have been ignored for quite some time. The effort is to apprise the watermill owners about the benefits of energy conservation and impart them adequate knowledge. In the capacity building workshop the field staff and experts elaborated on the implementation of project for the sustainable development of hilly region particularizing the role of gharatis (water mill owners).
In focus – Jibhi village
WWF –India organized a visit of experts from HESCO a Dehradun based NGO, to the watermill sites to examine the site for the further possibilities of renovating and improvement in the existing one. WWF - India selected the gharat of Mr. Dola Ram from Jibhi village for up gradation. A self help group of 15 people was formed to build the capacity and water mill owners for community ownership.
The locals are also nudged to use the same as sites of tourists’ attraction. The upgraded watermill was installed in the month of August 2009.
Local people have been told to set up a commercial centre of organic products and gharat flour. Some income generating activities have been started to ensure the sustainability of the unit. Time to time visit is organized by WWF specialists to inspect the progress of installation and up gradation of watermill.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Undoubtedly, there is huge potential for this technology to be replicated, and in doing so help conserve the fragile eco-system of the mountains and maintain a traditional way of life. The new technology increases the status of the water millers, alleviates poverty and improves the quality of people’s life, whilst also protecting the environment. The strategy is based on a perspective of low- income households and marginalized rural communities in order to strength their self help and self reliance capacities through innovative and catalytic action research type of intervention. Watermill use and application are continuous process. A constant input would improve overall efficiency and other possible applications. It is expected that the present program in the coming time will be a major activity for Global decentralized energy issue. Himachal Pradesh is a state with tremendous potential, hence need of the hour is finally to swing into action.