Yesterday I attended the Forest Department meeting at Doghri (Kullu Valley), where they have just completed construction of the second Pico Hydro unit.
I was impressed by the set up and the response from the villagers was very encouraging. It seems that the HESCO crew have constructed a new gharat power house double the size of the original one. They have also constructed a new forebay tank (which they say is just to stabilise the flow of water, not to increase the pressure) and have put in a new penstock and turbine etc.
The central rotating shaft can be linked up either to the generator (3kw – providing electricity for 30 bulbs, I’m not sure how many houses), or to a wool carder (for separating wool before spinning), an oil press or the original flour grinder. The ‘wool carder’ (I had never heard of this term before but that’s apparently what it is) seems to be a particularly useful apparatus for remote villages where there are a lot of sheep. I am told that they otherwise have to take their wool to Shamshi to get it separated, i.e. a long and expensive trip for a shepherd.
An agreement has been made with the gharat owners that the unit will be used to provide electricity after 5pm, and during the day it will be used for powering the flour mill, wool carder and oil press. It was not entirely clear to me how the benefit sharing has been decided. Most of the day was spent in a meeting to discuss general matters regarding the DFID project and next month’s training rather than particular details of the Pico Hydro, so there are still many questions that remain unanswered. It’s not far though so i hope to visit again and find out more. My general feeling was that it is an extremely good demonstration, and very much replicable in other villages.