As reported earlier by Ben Heron from Kullu Valley, the same meeting he attended there was on news and gives more picture about the pico hydro capability of the state:
Himachal watermills generating electricity
By Baldev S. Chauhan, Shimla: Traditional water mills on Himachal Pradesh’s scenic riverbanks, used for grinding grain and irrigation in paddy fields, are now being turned into low-cost power plants.
A project has been initiated by the state government with help from the central ministry of non-conventional energy sources to turn the existing water mills into electricity generators.
There are hundreds of traditional water mills across Himachal’s many rivers and streams, which are extensively used for grinding grain and for irrigation. Traditional mill owners and an NGO called HESCO have also chipped in with their contribution.
Under the project, villagers have been encouraged to turn their watermills into electricity generators at a cost of Rs.300,000 each.Two traditional water mills have already been converted in Dugri and Samang villages in the Kullu valley – one with five MW capacity and the other three MW.
Both mills have become functional, paving the way for producing electricity through more water mills in a cost-effective and environment friendly manner.”Around 166 households in the vicinity will benefit from the power generated by the two water mills that came into operation this week,” said a spokesman of the state government.
“Each household will need to pay a flat Rs.30 per month to avail itself of power from these mills. While Rs.15 will go to the mill owner, the rest will be deposited with the account of the maintenance committee,” said the official.
While large and medium hydropower-projects are criticised for causing harm to nature, power generation through watermills is natural and environment-friendly. “A watermill producing electricity operates like the traditional flour mill. After the renovation of the mill, its spinning speed goes up and one can also grind grains,” said Shravan Kumar, a watermill owner at a village in the Kullu valley. Such experiments have been tried in only two other states – Uttaranchal and Arunachal Pradesh.
Himachal has around a quarter of the country’s hydropower potential. But due to huge expenses involved, nothing much has been done to tap the potential.