Home grown power
For the Indian public, Kargil brings back memories of war. But here in Tikat village, 11,000 feet above sea level in Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir (j&k), people feel their district will soon be known for the state's first community-managed micro-hydel project.
Their pride is understandable. All the 70 households of Tikat participated in the building of the 30-kilowatt (kw) project, while the state government's science and technology (s&t) department chipped in with a Rs 10 lakh grant. "The Tikat panchayat set up a Village Energy Committee (vec) in October 2003 and some facilitators were chosen to oversee the construction and maintenance of the project,' says Yogeshwar Kumar, committee member and civil engineer for the undertaking. vec members went into all the details of the tasks before them, from choosing the site and selecting maintenance engineers to installing household connections and evolving a tariff collection method, before beginning work on the project a year later. The actual building took just two months and was ready by September 2004. "We look forward to many more such projects in j&k', divulges Q Vani, project director.
Uttaranchal shows the way Similar micro-hydel projects have already seen a fair degree of success in some villages in the hill state of Uttaranchal. In fact, even the process in Tikat was initiated when engineers from Genwali village, in Uttaranchal's Tehri Garhwal district, came to Tikat to train its local engineers. Genwali, a 60-household village 6,500 feet above the sea level, is 15 kilometres on foot from the nearest road. Yet, it is known in the region for producing electricity. The community-run Genwali project, set up on November 12, 2001, was facilitated by Gram Vikas Panchayat Samiti (gvps), a local non-governmental organisation (ngo) and funded by the Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development, a Delhi-based ngo. The project was inspired by the success of an earlier micro-hydel project at Buddhakedarnath village, also in Tehri-Garhwal, that was set up by a local ngo, the Lok Jiwan Vikas Bharti (ljvb).
"Providing electricity by grid requires long transmission lines and is usually uneconomical because the villages here are small and have a very low demand for electricity. These projects are a good option because they require low investment