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Lighting up remote villages in North East

By Correspondent

DIMAPUR, May 11 � Remote rural villages in the whole of the Northeastern region not connected to the power grid will soon be able to manage their own power and get clean and renewable energy once the hydrogers developed by Nagaland Empowerment of People through Energy Development (NEPeD) reach the power-less villages.

A member of NEPeD said the agency has been trying to light up the powerless remote villages with its 3 KW hydroger that can facilitate sustainable development and help change the rural economy. So far, the NEPeD has installed 25 hydrogers � 22 in Nagaland and one each in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

The agency has recently set up a demonstration and resting site of hydrogers at Phesama in Kohima district as well as a site of the project in Kiphire. It has tied up with the Assam Rifles to provide power to the remote villages in Tuensang district through this micro hydro project.

Interestingly, EVMs were run by using hydrogers in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections at remote Naishu village under Noklak sub-division of Tuensang district, informed NEPeD member Ming Ezung.

Presently, NEPeD is managed by a five-member team headed by Commissioner & Secretary, Rural Development, Menukhol John as the team leader.

To identify the challenges and opportunities in implementing community micro hydro projects in the Northeastern region, the NEPeD, supported by International Rivers, a non-profit organisation, organised a two-day regional workshop �Community Micro Hydro in Northeast India: Challenges and Opportunities� at Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency from May 8 where delegates from the North- eastern States Renewable Energy departments, experts from Sri Lanka and Nepal and representatives of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy were in attendance. The participants deliberated on bottlenecks to community micro hydro development in the Northeastern region, cost benefits to communities, policy mechanism and practitioner realities and how best practices from scaled and sustained programmes in northern India, Nagaland, Nepal and Sri Lanka could be applied in the North East context among others.

�We hope that there will be an increased awareness among decision makers and local stakeholders of bad and good micro hydro practices; and how micro hydro can trigger an alternative, development model. We have explored probable next steps for alleviating sustainability issues with existing micro hydro projects and scaling successful pilot projects,� said Dipti Vaghela, solutions coordinator, International Rivers.

Director, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, BK Bhatt hoped the workshop experience will help community participation and development of micro hydro programme of the Ministry. The deliberations will also help improve the implementation, he added.

�We believe that small is beautiful, and that micro hydro projects could be a way to sustainably supply energy to remote villages, at the same time preserving the rich natural resource endowment of the North East,� team leader of NEPeD Menukhol John said.

Since 2011, NEPeD has been independently fabricating a 3-kilowatt hydro turbine that is benefiting many roadside food stalls, farmers and village households in remote locations.

�India has vast renewable energy potential as well as sites where we can deploy low-impact, non-dam small hydropower turbines. We cannot afford to do more of the same when better options such as those manufactured by NEPeD are available to us,� said Bharat Lal Seth, South Asia Program Coordinator of International Rivers based in New Delhi.

What is needed is a holistic approach that is built upon the region�s strong culture of community and strengthening watersheds/ecosystems, the experts stressed. This approach must connect micro hydro implementation with a strategy for reducing poverty and drudgery and increasing local economic development. The workshop has called for a sustainable and scaled approach that transforms pilot projects into a robust, long-term programme built upon local capacity building, quality assurance, productive use, and innovation.

The experts feel that the hydro potential of the NE region will soon become the country�s mega powerhouse.

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