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 Udmaroo is a bright green triangle in the sloping mountains, cultivating forty-seven of its 457 hectares through carefully channeled waterways. The main income of the village is subsistence agriculture: wheat, barley, mustard and vegetables plus apricots fruit in the summers. Udmaroo is close to the Pakistan border and army presence in the area is long established. The village people approached LEDG (Ladakh Ecological Development Group) for an expert solution. LEDeG is a non-governmental organization based at Leh. Since its formation, it has consistently worked towards serving the underprivileged people residing in structurally disadvantaged areas of Ladakh and has been striving to address the environmental and cultural issues affecting the people in the region due to the current conventional developmental initiatives.

Grid electricity to Udmaroo is not feasible therefore people are destined to use smoky kerosene lamps or diesel generator sets.

·         The organization (LEDeG) assessed the need in the village and the feasibility of various types of renewable energy.

·         A site high up in the cliff was identified. The villager who own the land sold it at a price of Rs.60,000, which was contributed by the households.

·         A 32kVA micro-hydro power unit was installed in a glacier stream above the village.

·         Every customer of the system is a general member of the Electricity Management Committee (EMC) and in turn elects a six-member body to handle management.

·         Villagers contribute in the installation of the power unit, both in money and in labour.

·         From the micro-hydro power unit, the electricity is transmitted through a miniature grid. Electricity is available from the flowing water for nine months as during winters all water is freezed.

·         The villagers decided to use electricity only after dark from 6pm to midnight.

·         Electricity provided on demand, by arrangement with the electricity management Committee.

·         Electricity fees are collected by the committee’s cashier and stored in a common bank account.

A distribution grid was made with poles of the willow that grows fast in the region and wires strung by men balancing precariously on beams and ladders. A section of the stream also had to be diverted to run the MHPU.

Hydro-electricity is fundamentally the combination of water flow and vertical drop (commonly called “head”). Vertical drop creates pressure, and the continuous flow of water in a hydro system gives us an ongoing source of pressurized liquid energy. Pressurized, flowing water is a very dense resource, and hydro-electric systems convert a very large percentage of the available energy into electricity because the resource is captive in a pipe or flume.

·         Community having control over their own electricity system. Despite the effort required to manage it, they can be sure of a reliable service, unlike customers of the centralized electricity grid.

·         Generates 20-25kVA of electricity.

·         Income generating enterprises are running oil extraction enterprises, carpentry enterprise, flour milling enterprise, fruit processing enterprise.

·         Improvement in living conditions with the introduction of electricity as people can study or work late in the night hours.

 

Location: Ladakh

 

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Source: www.greenpeace.org