Western Himalayas are dotted with rivers, rivulets,
streams, lakes etc. Larger rivers are being tamed
for electricity generation through huge hydel projects.
Micro-hydel projects and small gharats (traditional
water mills), which work on run-of-the-stream power,
have also been successful. This region is rich in
having gharats developed by local inhabitants thousands
of years ago using simple techniques and which served
them well. In the simplest water mills, energy differentials
due to the Himalayan terrain are used to produce
shaft power primarily used for grain milling. Later,
more complex machines were also used for spinning
and carding. The ancient designs did not pose any
major problems earlier but now, with the advent
of diesel/electric flourmills and also the increased
workload of villagers due to various reasons, the
low output of the gharats, although at a cheaper
rate, has become a major deterrent causing villagers
to abandon them. Another factor is the limited function
of the gharat, as grain grinder only; for rice husking
and oil expelling villagers have to resort either
to manual labour or use the services of diesel/electric
Studies conducted by HESCO revealed that the gharats
can become functional, using appropriate technology,
and can be improved in terms of output/efficiency
and also be rendered multifunctional. With little
effort, these improved gharats can then be made
an important hub of the rural economy.
The following modifications have been made to the
traditional water mill:
velocity of water makes the surface rough and causes
excessive turbulence in water flow at the flume,
leading to loss of energy by friction. To avoid
such losses, GI sheet covering the inner surface
of the flume was placed.
wooden runner has been replaced by a cast steel
runner. The diameter of the runner is 500 mm. having
16 blades. The complete runner is of one piece casting
having about 32 kg. weight.
flat blades of water wheel on which the water jet
strikes have been provided a curvature, so that
maximum pressure energy could be harnessed. This
would prevent splashing losses, besides lessening
disturbances to the incoming water jet.
bearing has been introduced at the bottom of the
water wheel allowing more free rotation.
The additional input involved is Rs. 4500-6000,
which improves the efficiency up-to 140%. The costs
recovered or income from this technology is locally
considered in terms of bhagwari i.e. the part of
the flour paid by the customer to the owner for
their service. Such intervention has led to a large
number of abandoned water mills being operational
not only in Uttaranchal but also in J & K.