Preface: Since generations' advancement in technology has been expanding, still the basic needs of millions of people are unfulfilled. Water, air, land are the life supporting natural resources gifted to man. With the passage of time and advancement in technology, the means of betterment of life have been explored and implemented at many places. The resource availability and need to harness have been felt by the community and at several places, even without the interventions from outside. Certain areas are deficient in such resource and are underdeveloped. The socio economic development in the absence of basic needs has lagged these communities behind in a state of low quality of life.

The nature has restricted man from using conventional sources of energy in the given space and time. Non-conventional sources of energy such as water, wind, biomass, solar have given man wider perspectives for overcoming problems of inaccessibility. Of these non-conventional sources of energy, Mini Hydel has been seen as a potential power-generating avenue using water, and has been termed as clean technology, with zero wastage. The life span of such technology is also better as compared to the other sources, except the initial investments. It can meet wider needs of human day to day life in addition to providing lighting.

India has various eco regions, of which the hills offer the maximum potential for generating energy through non-conventional means. Physiographical divisions of Orissa have eastern plateau and eastern ghat inhabited by the tribal community and more than 80 tribes exist in Orissa. Most of the tribal areas have been living without electricity since their existence. As per the report of the working group on options for rural electrification in remote and difficult areas, the number of unelectrified villages in Orissa is 11757. Out of these villages 8367 villages are identified as normal and 3390 villages as remote villages. As per district statistics there are still 45% of the villages which are unelectrified. Agriculture is the major occupation of these tribals, mainly paddy cultivation. Most of the fields follow the streambed.

Due to heavy loss in soil and high runoff during the rainy season, the water availability is worsening with every passing year. Water appears in the form of natural springs, small channels, seepage, and most often it flows in the sub surface.  Water for irrigation has been of immense importance to the tribals and they have derived means by digging earthern canals and diverting the flow to the fields, still most of the land remains unirrigated. The catchments are generally small and are drained by these small streams. The slope characteristics indicate loose soil at high slopes, even though people have been practicing agriculture on hill slopes. The most visible slope is around 300.

Since steep slopes are less, water has to be conveyed by means of a canal to achieve the desirable head for running micro-hydel. The region has four rainy months, where 70% of the rainfall takes place; low rainfalls mark rest of the seasons. This lean flows are used for irrigation purpose and possible storages for thinking a Mini Hydel is an important aspect. The use of local material could be a better option for reducing the costs (using earthern canals). The potential use of power has to serve the twin purpose of lighting and grinding or processing works. The other issue, which has to be explored, is the nature of investments and the sustainability. Mini Hydel could be a viable option looking at the scale of settlements and its usage. Hence other forms of energy than Mini Hydel can be explored looking at the resources naturally available and the investments to be made.

Rationale: At the event of the new millennium the progress we have achieved during the last hundred years of growth of science and technology to certain extent played an important role in realising growth  and justice. Many a times the approach to development and the results have not brought in desired results to the majority of the people. Technology  today instead of allevating poverty and injustice has some how aggravated the situation leading to gross inequality, environmental destruction and  ever growing poor.   Our aim was to reverse this trend, through decentralized community based and centered technology options.

With reference to this learning process in the year 1991 a padayatra (long march) covering 1200 Kms spread over in two states of AP and Orissa (Eastern Ghats)  was organised to study the impact on the people,  ecology  and on people's perception due to  macro development interventions in the tribal dominated and in rich bio-diversity region.  This effort gave us a direction towards identifying  alternative development interventions. One of the learning during the Padayatra was the so called construction marco river valley projects in the tribal regions. It was clear to us that many of these dam projects which has uprooted tribals and taken away their sources of surivival were never been part of the benefits of such development where the tribals were forced to pay  the price for the growth of the nation.  Sharing the above thinking, WIDA  critically  analysed the models of development driven by dominant development ideology and continuously interact and promote develop alternatives which would address the issues concerning people's development, environment and distributive justice.

We all  believe that development cannot be imposed on people but build space for the people to plan, implement, monitor and own the development actions. After series of meetings and discussions with the communities, the people were involved in identifying areas of alternative development intervention in the field of  agriculture, irrigation systems, native medicines, technologies, disaster and natural resource management (land, water and forest), leadership  and people's empowerment processes. As a NGO while questioning the macro development projects such as dams for irrigation and power, mining and commercial plantations which have displaced millions of people and ended up with ecological degradation  in the name National Development, it became a challenge not only to critique but demonstrate people centered sustainable development models. 

WIDA along with the people have initiated a number of micro level alternatives and have identified to intervene in developing de-centralised energy options. This experiences gave us the opportunity to identify   and focus on developing mini hydro power projects to be owned by the people in Putsil Village in Orissa.

Area of Operation: The proposed Mini Hydro site is located in Putsil village at an altitude of 1150 meters above sea level. Putsil falls under Gram Panchayat of Dhudari, Semiliguda Block, Koraput District, Orissa, India.


- to identify and implement de-centralised energy options

- to involve people in planning alternative technologies

- to train people in mini hydro project management

- to develop electricity consumer society

- to effectively use power and manage end use applications

- to build future vision towards just development

- to share the experiences on Mini Hydro

- to provide a space for technologists, scientists, NGOs to interface with the communities on de-centralised energy options

Methodology & Process:

People's Participation and Contribution.

Follow-up and  Future Perspective

Responsibility Plan & Project Management

Feasibility Study: The village of Putsil lies at the intersection of 82 59 37 longitude and 18 42 08 latitude. The  Mini Hydro scheme uses the water from the stream Kodramb that runs close to the village. Kodramb, which is a tributary of the Karandi river, is a perennial stream which drains an area of approximately 3 sq. km.

The rain climate in the region is mainly characterised by the south west monsoon which accounts for 1158mm of the total annual average  rainfall of 1366mm (based on rainfall data 1970-1997) or nearly 85% of the annual rainfall. The landscape in the region is characterised largely by barren  mountains consisting of metamorphous rock overlain by stony-gravely soil. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect a high surface run-off during the rainy season resulting in a  heavy silt load in stream waters.

At the present, the stream serves as a source of irrigation water for paddy cultivation which is the main agricultural activity of the local population. Paddy cultivation is practice in the form of terraced blocks sloping down almost following the stream path.

Power Demand Analysis: Based on the discussion held with the  people, lighting and milling/grinding are the two main power demands supplied by the Mini Hydro scheme. The loads arising from these applications are summarised as follows:

(a)  Domestic demand:  
      o  3*20 W lamps per household 60 W
      o  Provision for Radio/Cassette 10 W
      o  Total demand by all 72 households (70W*72) 5040 W
(b)  Street lighting: 15 lamps * 40W 600 W
(c)  Milling - Grinding machinery 3000 W
Total night time power demand 5640 W
Total day time power demand 3000 W

Based on the experience of similar projects elsewhere, e.g. Sri Lanka, Nepal, a load growth is expected following the electrification, as people start acquiring various electrical appliances.  It was also suggested by people that the scheme could provide battery charging facilities for those from neighbouring villages. As the chances of extending the national electricity grid supply to Putsil are very remote, the project plans for increased electricity demand due to population growth. Taking these into account, the demand is expected to be about 10kW to 12kW within the next 7 - 8 years and 20 to 25 kW in the next 20 years.

Design Parameters: A scheme of this nature is designed to operate with the lowest stream flow to ensure year round power supply. The dry season in the region extends from February to April. Measurement of the dry season flow was, therefore, conducted in late March (28 March 1998) using the float method.  Based on six repeated measurements, the current discharge in the stream was estimated as 50 l/s. The measurements were carried out at the proposed take-off point where an abandoned irrigation diversion weir (check dam) exists.

The elevation difference between the take-off point and the valley, lying about 500m downstream, was initially estimated as 60m using an altimeter and was later measured as 65m using a Dumpy Level. Taking into consideration the power demand and site suitability, it was decided to locate the power house on the right-hand side slope of the paddy terraces at an elevation which gives a gross head of 53m. The main design parameters of the plant are:

o    Design flow rate                                                                                   50 l/s

o    Gross head                                                                                         53m

o    Design power output at the point of consumption, i.e. village compound    13 KW

During the dry season, diversion of 50 l/s flow from the stream will affect the irrigation of paddy fields which is now being done by continuous diversion of the stream water across the cascade of paddy terraces. As this is a case of over irrigation, villagers agreed to divert water to the power plant during night and continue irrigation during the day time thereby causing no adverse effects on the current irrigation pattern.

Design of the Scheme - Diversion weir: Water for the scheme is diverted at the existing (abandoned irrigation check dam) weir located at the intersection of 82 59 30 longitude and 18 42 30 latitude. It was observed that there is a leakage flow underneath the foundation of the weir which needed by constructing a cut-off wall about 3 m upstream of the body wall of the wire to prevent the leakage. Some minor repairs also were effected to improve the functioning of the system.

Headrace channel: The existing 17m long channel of cross-section 1.0m * 0.34m was more than the required section for the proposed design flow of 50 l/s. Therefore, a flood spillway was built on the channel wall to divert excess water into the stream along a rubble apron. The channel was extended by 33m to reach the proposed location of the fore-bay tank. Cross-section of the new channel section is 0.3m * 0.3m and built out of Random Rubble Masonry (RRM) in cement mortar 1:6 over a bed concrete of 1:5:10 of thickness 0.15m.

De-silting tank: As the cross-section of the existing channel is too large for the design flow, there was a possibility of silt deposits along this section of the channel due to the low channel velocity. As a counter measure, a de-silting tank of 5m * 2m was built immediately after the spillway. A silt flushing arrangement was built into the system. The tank was built out of RRM.

Fore-bay tank: A fore-bay tank of 2m * 1m was built to provide a stable level of water in the penstock. A trash rack with 12mm spacing was placed at the penstock entry to avoid debris entering into the penstock. The tank was incorporated with a flushing arrangement to remove any finer silt deposits.  A flood spillway leading to a rubble apron to divert water into the stream during the plant shut-off period was built. The foundation of the tank is a bed concrete in Cement Concrete (CC) 1:2:4 and the side walls were with Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) of 1:2:4.

Penstock: Taking into consideration factors such as transportation in the rugged terrain and lifespan of the system it was decided to opt for PVC pipe for the penstock. A 200mm diameter was selected to limit the head loss to 10% of the gross head. The worst case surge pressure was estimated as 54m. Thus, the maximum pressure which the penstock has to withstand is 107m. A PVC pipe with wall thickness of 8mm will have a safety factor of 2 against such a load case. A vent pipe of 25mm was installed at the beginning of the penstock to prevent collapsing of the pipe due to vacuum created in a case of sudden closure of the entry.

To avoid exposure of the PVC pipe to UV rays, the pipe was buried as much as possible in a trench. The pipe was laid on a sand cushion of 0.15m thickness. Any exposed section of the pipe was painted with coal tar. Anchor blocks of suitable size was placed at all bends to account for lateral thrust loads. Where necessary the pipe is supported on mass concrete blocks.

Electro/Mechanical equipment: The specific speed of the turbine (at a shaft speed of 1500rpm) is estimated as 57 which suggested that the turbine should be of Multi-jet Pelton, Tergo Impulse or Cross-flow type. As Tergo Impulse turbines of this capacity are generally not found in the market, and that the Cross-flow type has a comparatively lower efficiency, it was recommended to opt for a Multi-jet Pelton type turbine.   Hydro plants of this capacity can be equipped with either synchronous generators or induction generators. 

Given the need for driving an electric motor (of the milling/grinding machinery) it was recommended that the plant be equipped with a synchronous generator. Governing of the system is done by means of an Electronic Load Controller (ELC). The plant with a switch board consisting of standard protection, control and metering systems was installed. The plant was protected against lightening. The entire plant was housed inside a 3m*3m power house with a tiled roof and constructed out of RR masonry. The discharge from the hydro plant was diverted back into the stream via a tailrace channel constructed out of RR masonry over a foundation concrete bed.

Electricity transmission: Electricity is transmitted to the village via a 1km long low voltage transmission line laid along the penstock path up to the weir from where it follows the main road.

o        Civil works/Power House 300,000
o        Penstock, supports and installation 420,000
o        Electro/Mechanical     600,000
o        Transmission line   200,000
o        Street lighting   30,000
o        Internal wiring       80,000
o        End use machinery 300,000
Total Estimate 1,930,000

Plant Operation & Maintenance: The supplier of equipments provided the training on O & M to a group of selected personnel from the village. The maintenance staff was provided with a set of tools and a work bench. Prior to commissioning the plant all families in the village were given a basic awareness about the scheme, taking care of it, and use of electricity.

Conclusion - Power to People: Orissa the sprawling state on the east coast of India often baffles people. It is a place rich and replete with history and blessed by nature’s bounty. Can you miss the Jagannath temple to the Sun God at Puri? Or the beaches or the Chilka, the largest salt water lake in the country?

Unfortunately, in recent times, this fair land has seen more than it’s fair share of tragedies and calamities, be it the “super cyclone” that hit it a few years back or the “communal deaths” in the last few years. Orissa is a state which can both seduce you and repel you.

For a place, which has the worst starvation deaths in the entire country (as witnessed in the Kalahandi district), Orissa also boasts of perhaps the maximum number of NGOs, Government sponsored NGOs and Multilateral NGOs than any other state working on the development and environment sectors.

Putsil village: An inspiring case study of WIDA’s touted objective of People’s Participation in Their Own Development:

When twilight heralds the arrival of night, oil lamps and kerosene lanterns lend a ghostly glow to the villages in the Koraput district of Orissa. Women hurry to finish their chores before it gets too dark and the villagers retire for the night. Except in Putsil village of Semiliguda block where night life has become more vibrant and the dark doesn’t inspire fear: this village has got electricity thanks to a mini hydro power plant coordinated by WIDA, with funding from organizations abroad. But what makes the villagers most proud of their power plant is the fact that they built it with their own hands and there has been absolutely no displacement.

“The villagers saved about Rs.3 lakh in labour costs out of the total cost of Rs.13.5 lakhs. The mini hydro power plant is perhaps the best instance of participatory approach of people towards their own development.”

The village of Putsil with a population of 370 is located at an altitude of 1,150 mts above sea level. One has to traverse through steep mud roads which cuts harsh lines through the green, rugged hills, to get to Putsil. For the mini hydro project an already existing dam was modified to accommodate the new needs. It was decided that not even a single tree would be cut during the project and the power plant would be totally people friendly. Each villager in Putsil contributed in terms of labour.

The survey conducted showed that the two main activities for which power was required was lighting, milling and grinding. This amounted to a demand of 5640 W during the night and 3000 W during the day. The people themselves suggested that the scheme could provide battery charging facility for the neighboring villages. Provision had also to be made for increased electricity demand due to population growth. Taking these into account, the demand for power was worked out to be about 10 KW to 12 KW within eight years.

Water for the hydro plant was to be provided from the perennial Kodramb stream, a tributary of the Karandi river. The scheme was designed to operate with the lowest flow in the Kodramb stream to ensure year round power supply. It was found that the discharge in the stream was at the rate of 50 lts per second. But diversion of this water during the dry season could affect the irrigation of the paddy fields. Consultation with the villagers resulted in them agreeing to divert water to the power plant during night and continuing irrigation during the day.

The power plant was commissioned in August 1999. The power house stands about a km before Putsil and is operated by two trained villagers. Electricity is transmitted to the village via a one km long low voltage transmission line laid underground. The power house is operated for about three hours in the morning and for four hours in the evening with each house provided 60W of electricity. Currently the plant generates about 7KW of power but the capacity can be increased up to 13 KWs if the need rises.

As one enters the village of Putsil, the happiness and pride on the faces of the people is self evident. “Initially we had some doubts. But as the projects progressed and electricity finally came, our faith was restored. Now we are very happy”, said  Masuru Santa, the village headman.

The main beneficiaries of electrification are the women. “Previously we had to go to Semiliguda to buy a litre of kerosene resulting in the waste of a day and kerosene is also getting dearer”, said Devdo Jani, women’s group leader. Another major benefit is the grinding mill which has taken a major burden off their shoulders. “We spend so many backbreaking hours grinding and pounding the rice and ragi. With this mill that has been eliminated”, added Devdo Jani. Women also find that a lot of work that they had to do at night can now be postponed to the evening since power is there. Children too can study in the evenings without straining themselves.

There are new signs of consumerism. Each house sports a radio or a tape recorder. The village community hall has got a brand new TV, a spanking dish antenna and hold your breath, even a computer. A couple of youth were trained in the use of computers. The TV, needless to say, is very popular in the Putsil village. “Though we speak the Kuvi dialect and not many understand Oriya, still everyone watches TV. “The cinema programmes are very interesting”, said a youth. The neighboring village too have benefited. One, they can make use of the grinding mill and two , they can get battery operated appliances charged at Putsil.

Nevertheless, a sum of Rs.20 per month per family was and continues to be collected towards the construction and maintenance of the power project.

The Putsil project threw up a few surprises too. The women of Putsil demanded that they provide them provision for electric heaters over the firewood stoves currently used. Inquiries by a puzzled WIDA threw up the fact that with electricity, the women could now see the smoke in the interior of their houses, which had no outlet since most houses have only an apology for a window. “Only now they realised how polluted their houses were. Providing electric heaters is not feasible.

About 10 acres of land have been earmarked on which the villagers will learn nursery management, raising of saplings for regeneration and planting of fruits trees. Already, with WIDA’s efforts, environmental awareness has caught on in Putsil. A case in point is the nearly 2000 acres of forests on the nearby hills that the villagers have protected. They do not allow anyone to cut trees or exploit the forests.

The village of Putsil is surely an example in how with local people’s participation alternative energy options can be considered for power. “Granted, this model cannot be replicated anywhere and everywhere. But such mini hydro projects can be considered in areas where it is feasible, without restoring to any traumatic displacement or environmental degradation”, and as for Putsil, the future only looks bright.



Actual Cost of the Project  

Feasibility  Study   35,000.00
Civil Construction   350,000.00
Pen Stock   312,000.00
Turbine   70,500.00
Electronic Load Controller   260,000.00
Transmission Lines   257,000.00
Generator   49,000.00
Consultancy   131,000.00
Transport and Travel   160,000.00
Coordination   73,111.00
Total Cost   1,697,611.00

Resources & Contributions                  

Som Need, Japan  6,64,060.00
NMZ , Germany  3,72,300.00
EZE, Germany   2,79,751.00
LWF, Geneva      69,000.00
DST, New Delhi    29,000.00
Consultants, India and Srilanka  70,000.00
People of Putsil  2,13,500.00
Total Cost  16,97,611.00


We the people of Putsil acknowledge the contribution of  the Team from IRDWSI, Consultants from Godavari Basin Action group-India, IT Srilanka, Auroville-Pondicherry and Samata-Andhra Pradesh.

William Stanley

IRDWSI, Semiliguda, Orissa

9 November 2003.