As Climate Change Threats Increase, Solutions Offered by Farmers and Workers Should Get More Attention

Mangal Turbine

          There is deepening concern worldwide at the increasing threats from climate change and the ongoing Climate Summit at Glasgow is in the middle of examining these serious issues. Scientists are giving increasing attention to finding smarter ways of climate change mitigation and adaptation. However adequate attention is not yet being given to properly tapping the potential contribution which ordinary people including farmers, workers, technicians and artisans etc. can make to reducing GHG emissions in the course of their work. Due to their rich everyday experimentation and experiences, they are certainly in a position to do so but often do not get the opportunities and enouragement for this.

It is often said, of course, that grassroots innovaters and barefoot scientists should be encouraged, but despite this, when someone actually does great work the system may fail to provide proper encouragement to him. One glaring example of this relates to the experiences of Mangal Singh, farmer scientist from Bundelkhand. His invention Mangal Turbine has been praised by very senior officials and scientists, yet both he and his invention have suffered from neglect. As Mangal Tubine makes it possible to use water from streams, small rivers and canals without using diesel and electricity by utlizing the enrgy of flowing water, its great potential for reducing GHG emissions at thousands and thousands of places in India and abroad wherever suitable conditions exist is obvious.

Mangal Turbine was first demonstrated in 1987. Mangal Singh was 40 at that time. Later it was patented as “Mangal Water Wheel Turbine Machine” (Patent No. 177190 dated 13-11-1997) as per Government of India gazette Notification dated 30th November, 1998.

This technology is described by Mangal Singh in the following words, – “The water wheel turbine machine consists of a water wheel which is firmly mounted on a steel shaft and supports on two bearing blocks fixed on foundation supports. The shaft is coupled with a suitable gearbox through universal couplings for stepping up speed of rotation. Output shaft of the gear box is  coupled on one end with a centrifugal pump for lifting water and the other end is mounted with a suitable pulley for deriving power for operating any machine. Design of the water wheel turbine is simple. It is available in different size to meet the varying requirements. Operation of water Wheel Turbine Pump-cum-P.T.O. Machine is very easy as anyone can operate the machine by opening the wooden or steel gate valve, the machine is stopped by stopping the flow of water through the gate.”

At least two former Secretaries of the Rural Development Ministry (B.K. Sinha and S.R. Sankaran) were known to be admirers of Mangal Singh’s efforts. B.K. Sinha had spoken widely about the great usefulness of Mangal Turbine.

B.K. Saha, former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, has written about this device, “I made a detailed analysis of the economic viability of the ‘Wheel’ and its comparative advantage vis-a-vis alternative methods of pumping water from streams and small rivers for irrigation. The system is extremely cost effective even after taking into consideration the cost of the Stop Dam. Where the Stop Dam is already available the system is even more cost effective. Installation of this device is strongly recommended wherever there is flowing water in small streams by constructing a stop dam and installing one or two water wheels as designed and developed by Shri Mangal Singh. It saves on energy like electricity or diesel and is ecologically completely benign.”

Similarly Dr. T.P. Ojha former Deputy Director General (Engineering) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research wrote that “Mangal Singh’s device offers great promise and possibility of lifting river water for irrigation, fisheries, forestry and drinking purposes. The water head created by putting a check dam across the river or perennial water course generates enough force to rotate the water wheels to operate one or two centrifugal pumps in series.

A report titled ‘Problems and Potential of Bundelkhand with Special Reference to Water Resource Base’ was prepared in 1998 by the Centre for Rural Development and Technology (CRDT) IIT Delhi and Vigyan Shikshan Kendra (VSK). This report examined MT carefully and recommended it for its great utility. This report said, “Most significant aspect is that the entire system designed by Mangal Singh is easily fabricated in the village itself, using available material and local workmanship. Besides, it requires minimal maintenance compared to other types, expertise for maintenance is available in the village itself.

The Limca book of Records (2013) has written, “Mangal Singh of VPO Bhailoni Lodh, Bar, Dist. Lalitpur, U.P., patented a low cost, efficient turbine that needs no fuel to operate it. Called Mangal Singh Water Wheel Turbine Pump-cum-PTP it can harness the energy of flowing water to lift water for irrigation. The turbine operates in water of one metre height that can be achieved by creating low cost check dams. His innovation could help save millions of litres of diesel per year or equivalent electricity.”

Civil Society, a leading and respected journal on development issues, has honoured Mangal Singh with its Hall of Fame Award. The Award was presented to Mangal Singh by eminent social activist Aruna Roy.

Mangal Singh has continued to work hard for spreading this invention in the next 34 years. He is about 74 years old now and very sad that proper use has not been made of his invention, even though a special committee ( the Maithani Committee) appointed by the Union Rural Development Ministry has recommended its widespread utilization in very srong terms.

It is certainly very sad  that the great potential of Mangal Turbine has not been  realised so far.This is a particularly shocking reflection of the wider reality that adequate attention is  generally not given to the potential of ordinary people paricularly farmers regarding the important contribution that they can make to big challenges like climate change mitigation and adaptation. This should change. An important initiative can still be taken to  make full use of the talents of Mangal Singh and to make the best possible use of his invention without further delay.

Bharat Dogra is author of ‘Planet in Peril—People’s Response only way forward’ and ‘Man Over Machine’.

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