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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

E-Charkha brings light to villages

In a few villages near here, Charkha, promoted by Mahatma Gandhi as a symbol of self-reliance and source of income for the rural population, has started doubling as a virtual micro-power plant in each poor household.

e-charkha — an improvised version of Ambar charkha, designed by Gandhian Ekambar Nath — does not resemble a typical charkha but can be operated by hand. A battery is attached to the e-charkha, which stores the electricity generated when it is being run. Two hours of operation is enough to light up the specially-designed LED light fitted to the e-charkha for eight hours.

Inhabitants of Jatwara village are fighting the dismal power situation with e-charkhas in addition to making a subsistence level income from spinning the yarn. Jatwara has 75 Ambar charkhas in operation. In Bassi, a tehsil of Jaipur, which has a long tradition of khadi, there are 350 of them working along a few thousands of traditional charkhas.

“The modified Ambar charkhas were introduced a few months ago as a pilot project by the Khadi Commission under the ‘SFURTI’ programme and they are proving very popular with the villagers,” said Laxmi Chand Bhandari, Secretary of the Khadi Gramodyog Sadhan Vikas Samiti, a 40-year old Sarvodaya organisation that looks after the Bassi cluster.

“There is great demand for khadi products and we could have provided more Ambar charkhas to the villagers but getting weavers is a problem these days,” Mr. Bhandari said. Each modified charka costs Rs.8,500 while the attachment, which enables to produce electricity, requires an investment of another Rs.1,500.

As per the concept of ‘SFURTI’ (Scheme of Funds for Regeneration of Traditional Industries), the e-charkhas have been provided on 75 p.c. grant.


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