Sunday, 14 July 2013

Unsung Heros - School dropout provides free electricity

School dropout provides free electricity by water harvesting in Nainital

Kuber Singh Dogra (32) has earned the tag with his skill, albeit with a precondition - "class-eight-fail engineer." Kuber, who could not study beyond Class VIII because of poor financial condition, has become famous in his village Bailpadav in Nainital district for generating electricity through a watermill.

Kuber Singh Dogra

He is presently providing free electricity to six families in his neighbourhood and is fondly addressed by the villagers as "class-eight-fail engineer." Till a year ago, villagers knew Kuber as a small-time car mechanic who also operated the watermill and used to grind foodgrain in his off time.

Kuber's life took a turn six months ago when some representatives of the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA), a state government unit, visited the watermill operated by the Dogra family and suggested electricity generation through water harvesting.

The idea made sense to Kuber and he decided to give it a try.

"I had heard about people generating electricity through watermills in the hills. After getting some details, I decided to try it myself. I borrowed money from family members and friends and bought a 3 KVA alternator from Haldwani market. My first few attempts failed. Later, I increased the water force and finally achieved success. Now, I provide free power to six families in the neighbourhood," said Kuber.

His experiment is simple, yet effective. A belt connects the moving turbine of the watermill with the alternator and helps generate electricity.

The watermill, generally busy grinding foodgrain during day, is used as a power generator in the night.

Power supply in Bailpadav village, which touches the famous Corbett Park, remains erratic, especially during Monsoon and when electricity lines are damaged by wild animals.

But the Dogra family and their six neighbours have reliable and regular power supply this rainy season.

Kuber's ancestors had migrated from Baddma village near Pathankot in Jammu and Kashmir to Uttarakhand some four-five decades ago.

The family used to make a living by operating a watermill, which they had taken on lease from the irrigation department.

"Poor family condition and death of my parents forced me to discontinue studies. After failing in class eight examination, I started working at a mechanic shop. Later, I set up a small workshop in my village, but I also operate the watermill," Kuber said.

Kuber borrowed money from family and friends to start his endeavour.