"For centuries, gharats (water mills) have been serving local needs, like milling of grain, in hundreds of locations in this hill state. By applying affordable technology to most of them, we can generate not only electricity, but also employment for a number of local rural people," says Ramu Ram, a retired officer from the electricity department.
Ram, who has been using a gharat to improve his financial condition post retirement, believes that the traditional structures have a bright future as they are a source of inexpensive and clean energy.
Ram's involvement with gharats began in 2007, soon after he retired. He contacted the industry department, which loaned him Rs 10 lakh to set up a gharat at Megal village in Drang segment.He then converted the structure into a small flour mill, where he now grinds wheat, rice and maize, and also extracts oil, which he sells under the brand name of Ramu Ram Hydro Flour Mill. The mill provides employment to four people.
Emphasising that his flour is better than ordinary flour, Ram says, "The flour produced by modern mills loses its nutrients due to heating, while wheat is not heated in water mills and thus retains its nutrients. So, the flour produced in my mill has all necessary vitamins and minerals."
Not one to rest on his laurels, Ram says that his next mission is to produce electricity through gharats.
"I am now trying to generate electricity from the force of water that moves gharat wheels, using the same principle on which hydro-electricity projects produce power," he adds.