Students’ initiative brightens up streets in Khuzama
If there is a will, there is a way. This dictum has been proved true by Nagaland’s Keseto Thakro, who works as a technician in the mechanical department of national Institute of Technology (NIT), Chumukedima, Dimapur.Along with the local school children, he has been able to set up a Mini Hydropower Plant that powers Street Lights of the Asian Highway that runs through the heart of his Khuzama village in Kohima district, Nagaland.
The idea of the plant struck him when because of the Covid, the NIT was closed and he returned to village but decided, as a member of the Khuzama Students’ Care Union (KSCU), to voluntarily tutor e-learning classes to local students since the schools were also closed. “While tutoring the students on a chapter called ‘source of energy’, the thought of installing a hydroger, a mini-hydro generator, struck me. I shared the idea with the Union (KSCU), and everyone agreed.
That’s why we came up with this project called ‘Project Brighter Khuzama’ and thanks to the students’ initiative, we assembled the plant and hydro-powered the village in two months. I found not only a way for students to understand the chapter through practical learning but also promoted in the process the use of clean and renewable energy”, he proudly says.
“The sole purpose of the project is not only to produce electricity and benefit from it but to educate the students and the community about green energy,” says the 31-year-old. Feeding two birds with one seed, Keseto adds, “To keep the machine running we now protect the forest, where our water source lies. And the students also learned the basic working principles of a hydroelectric power plant.”
To begin with, Keseto arranged for a run-down hydroger through his sources in the NIT. In June, the KSCU acquired the machine, repaired it and assembled it in roughly a day. But still there was not enough money. So Keseto thought of using the hydroger to power just one street lamp near an accident-prone area. And once it was done to install a lamp on the bridge over the Mewoboke, the students recorded a video of the setup and posted it to WhatsApp groups, appealing for further help. Funds began pouring in after that.
“Project Brighter Khuzama is wholly funded by like-minded locals and not by any governmental organisations. We raised about Rs 85,000, and the total expenditure came up to Rs 80, 000,” informs Keseto.
The local paper, The Morung Express, which highlighted the story (this story is based on its reports), reported why Keseto chose to first light the lamp on the bridge. It was because, 90% of the population of the village being farmers, they depended on the Mewoboke River as their main source of irrigation. “As most of the villagers depend on agriculture, we thought of installing the first street light there. The second street light was installed at the village’s sub-health centre, that sees many late-night emergencies and deliveries,” Keseto says.
Keseto adds that “The machine’s capacity is 3 kilowatts, but at present, we are generating around 550 watts, which is enough to light up 23 street lamps (7-foot tall), that light up the footpath and eight street lights (20-foot tall) that covers around a 300-meter-stretch of the highway.”
Not just a lighting project
Speaking to The Morung Express, Keseto said the core objective is to educate the community and students on the importance of clean and renewable energy and provide community street lights and street lamps along the National Highway.
The street lamps will be powered by electricity produced by the Mini Hydropower plant at Mewoboke River. Fixed charging points will be installed at common gathering places and the village rest house.
The project, Keseto maintained, is not only to generate electricity but also to preserve and protect the forest area where the main river source lies, and promote the use of clean and renewable energy for positive benefits.
“This is an initiative towards harvesting not only water energy but also other sources of free energy available in the near future,” added Keseto. Explaining in brief on how the project initially started, he said Nagaland Empowerment of People through Energy Development (NEPeD) Dimapur donated a ‘Reconditioned’ hydroger (mini hydro generator) to the Union. Members of the Union assembled the hydroger and managed to renovate damaged parts to bring it to a running condition.
The KCSU then set out on its ambitious project to light 50-60 streetlights along the National Highway, especially in an area that is prone to accidents. “The area where the project is being carried out has less inhabitants with not a single street lights,” Keseto said while adding that an open narrow bridge with a sharp turning has caused many accidents and fatalities.
Importance of Green Energy
With 90% of the population who are farmers and depend on the river as their main source for irrigation, it was told that there have been instances where oil tanker trucks fell into the gorge. This causes huge oil spills that pollute and contaminate the water and, in turn, drastically affects the farmers. In that sense, this project is a great value addition to the general activity of the entire community.
“Being a student body, we took it as a challenge to make use of the natural resources not only to develop, but also to educate and highlight on the importance of green energy to the students and the community as a whole,” said Keseto.
The Union has also produced a short video clip of how the project has been undertaken and has appealed for sponsors to help them reach its goal to producing at least 1000 KWH from the Mini Hydroger to light up the National Highway. “Your small contribution can make a huge change,” stated the union.