Working for technological empowerment and sustainable livelihoods at the grass root levels.
Selected Replicable Technology Models for Rural Application
Improved Water Mill

Problem/Need Assessment

The 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 mills.


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.

Technology Package

The following modifications have been made to the traditional water mill:

High 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.

The wooden runner has been replaced by a cast steel runner.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.

The 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.

A 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.

Help line:
Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO)
Village Ghisapadi, P.O. Mehuwala via Majra
District Dehradun, Uttaranchal
Ph: - 0135-2642391



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Technology Models for
Rural Application
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