Himalaya is boon and curse. These are the mountains that help to tranquil our soul and assemble our hopes in solitude. The same mountains stand tall to hinder the progress of modern development and technology. The mighty rivers start as rivulet in the lap of these mountains. The kinetic energy of falling river among the slopes are used to harness the power to grind grains to empower human body. The conservation of energy works perfectly fine satisfying scientific society of rich nation who want’s to keep nature pure and make a big shout out for being agrarian while doing so.
These turning machines are popularly known as Pani Ghatta a.k.a water mills. The water mills are very popular across the Himalayas, as it is the only reliable machine to grind grain for people living in the regions. The water mills are not limited to Nepal but you can see across the stretch of hills of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, and Bhutan. Traditionally limited to grinding, now many are modified to generate electricity for local use.
The water is diverted from the mainstream via open or closed duct towards the turbine placed on the lower section of mill house. The turbine used to be made of wood, but the majority of wooden turbines are replaced with metallic as improved water mills these days. The vertical shaft connected to the turbine on the floor of mill house runs and turns the upper section of stone. The lower section is stationary, and grains stored in wooden settings above the stone drops grains through a hole in upper stone to lower stone via feeder mechanism, and then grains are ground in between the stones.
Improved Water Mills (IMW)- New Name for Modern era
Improved water mills are one of the clean technologies promoted by the government of Nepal with many other stakeholders. Nepal has about 25,000 traditional water mills scattered throughout the country. 6,500 of them already have been converted to IMW. Replacement of wooden parts (rotor and shaft) with metallic parts is the main improvement made in the technology. The technology can also generate electricity up to 3 kW, sufficient for lighting as well as for operating small electric and electronic home appliances.
Advantages of IWM
Employment: The installation, advocacy, operation, maintenance and promotion of IMW will create a lot of opportunities at national and local level employing skilled as well as unskilled labor.
Income Level: It helps to improve the income of mill owner as well as a user. It helps to increase the living standard of local people.
Boosting the Local Economy: The water mill will remove the drudgery of traditional grinding. It will save time which people can invest in income generating activities like animal husbandry, agriculture, and others. People will get familiar with new technology and electronic devices which is powered by electricity from water mill.
Gender Mainstreaming and Social Inclusion: Watermills helps to reduce the stress of grinding grains for women. Traditionally grinding was done manually by women. This replaces huge burden on women. The mills will be a melting point for women to socialize and get connected to each other. It helps to remove social evils like un-touch-ability, status quo, and others.
Environmental Impacts: The IWM is powered by gravity-driven water, a renewable source of energy, which essentially does not produce air pollution or sound pollution. Therefore, the technology is environmentally sound and acceptable.
Image Source: http://nepalitimes.com/article/nation/Flour-power