Access to uninterrupted electricity was wishful thinking for Kedar Prasad Mahto and other locals of Byang village in Jharkhand. The erratic power cuts made it difficult for farmers to use water pumps for irrigation, affected businesses and disturbed the students during their studies.
Additionally, since childhood, Kedar did poorly in academics and sharing his experience when he was 15, he says, “Many villagers kept complaining about the irregular power supply. It was a common topic of discussion, and everyone’s life was getting affected by it. Even women felt unsafe to venture out during evening hours. Moreover, the village population and electricity consumption continued increasing, causing frequent load-shedding issues. I decided to find a solution. But then, I was in school and lacked the knowledge and resources.”
The 33-year-old claims to have spent 18 years learning, saving money and finally building a hydropower unit that now illuminates the streets and a temple in his village.
Jugaad all the way
Sharing details about his work with The Better India, Kedar says, “During my school days, I learned the concept of hydropower generation, which involves using water to generate electricity using turbines, dynamo and a motor. So I decided to try experimenting the same with the river Senegarha that passes along our village.”
Now an electrician with the state electricity board department, Kedar explains, “As I grew older, I started procuring discarded materials from scrap vendors and electrical equipment. I took odd jobs as an electrician to earn money for the purchases and gave up pursuing higher studies to save money.”
He started by creating a concrete column on the river and fitted a turbine with magnet, coil, motor, armature and other parts. “I learned and prepared all the parts by myself and slowly assembled them,” he says, adding, “In 2020, I built a 3 kW turbine, but it did not deliver the expected output.”
Kedar then reworked the project to establish a 5kW power generation plant and succeeded. “The electricity generated illuminates about 45 100-watt power bulbs in the village. I have used iron blades to make the turbine and designed it uniquely, enabling it to function even with the low-pressure water flow observed during summers. It took Rs 3 lakh for constructing the power generation unit, out of which I contributed almost Rs 2 lakh, and the villagers contributed for the remaining sum,” he says.
The village head, Suraj Nath Bhokta, says the jugaad by Kedar has proved to be a blessing. “Today, the villagers receive assured power supply during social events. Recently, we experienced a sudden power cut during one of the festivals, and Kedar’s hydropower unit came to our rescue,” he says.
Speaking of challenges, Kedar says, “I had no financial support and learned all the aspects of power generation through trial and error. Initially, I considered installing a solar power unit but eventually realised that its life span was limited to 25 years. So I chose to use the river to generate electricity, as it would work for as long as it exists.”
He now plans to build a higher capacity power generation unit to improve the electricity supply. “I hope the state government recognises my effort and supports my cause,” he says.
Edited by Yoshita Rao