News / Asia

    Indian Electricity Initiative Shines New Light on Farm Garbage

    Farmers in India usually dump rice husks as waste
    Farmers in India usually dump rice husks as waste

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Some of India's most remote farming villages are beginning to see sundown in a new light, now that they are able to convert an abundant crop into electricity.

    Remote regions are prime examples of what people describe as old India - parts of the country off the grid, literally, from new India and its high-tech urban centers.

    Tamkuha, in the Indian state of Bihar, does not receive electricity from the country's main distribution network.  It gets by on traditional farming -  and for decades, as the sun went down, villagers turned to the dim light of candles or kerosene lamps.

    But these days, thanks to an ambitious renewable energy project, life in Tamkuha no longer grinds to a halt around 6:00 p.m.  By the glow of florescent bulbs, residents have been able to extend their hours of productivity late into the night.

    A woman says she used to work as a tailor only during the day.   Sewing was nearly impossible with a kerosene lamp. Now, she says she can work in her shop until very late at night.

    Husk power

    The source of the new electricity is something Tamkuha has in abundance: rice.

    The startup company Husk Power Systems has designed a system fueled by the husk of rice plants - usually discarded after the rice grains are harvested.  When heated, rice husks release flammable gas that can be used to power electric generators.  A small plant can light up several hundred households for more than six hours at a time.

    HPS Chief Operating Officer Ratnesh Yadav says the company's technology is a new spin on renewable energy. He says he started by looking at solar power and other options, but those seemed expensive.   People out here were dumping rice husks as waste - so, he looked into making use of it.  That was three-and-a-half years ago, he says, and since then his company has set up about 60 husk power plants in India.

    Husk power makes villages like Tamkuha less isolated by helping residents charge mobile phones.  The electricity is also giving the village new access to commerce and services during the night hours.

    Shopkeepers can sell food and other needed items.  The village doctor, Farooq Ansari, can continue to see patients.

    He says when he began his medical practice 27 years ago, he had trouble running the clinic at night.  With kerosene lamps, he had to close down everything by 7 or 7.30 in the evening. Now, with electric lights, he says he can serve his people at the clinic until 11 at night.

    Young students like Priyanka Yadav say electricity has given them a new lease on learning. She says she used to study by kerosene lamp.  It was stressful and she could not study for long.  Now she says she can study until midnight if she wants.

    The husk power project is supported in part by the Indian government - which has set a target of deriving 15 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020.  But HPS Regional Manager Sanjay Chauhan says residents of Tamkuha are seeing a big change in their lives right now.

    "Dream comes true"

    He says villagers tell him it's like a dream come true.  They never dreamed that electricity would come to this area.  He says they are coming to understand how electricity can change their lives.

    Yadav says previously young people here could never think of doing anything beyond village level farming. But now they are dreaming of becoming doctors, engineers and scientists.  The arrival of electricity, he says, is raising their ambition.

    That is exactly the kind of ambition and talent new India will need as it ascends to superpower status on the world stage - nurtured by one of the most abundant by-products of old India's agriculture.

    You May Like

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Foreign Media in Pyongyang Barred From North Korean Party Congress

    Hundreds of international journalists invited to cover historic party meeting barred from entering actual event

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora