ELECTRICITY AND COOKING CHARCOAL
The inspiration for this programme came from looking for a way to remove the pine needles from local forest floors. Monoculture pine forests that have grown in the middle elevations of the Himalayan region are depriving the local population of water, fodder and fuel wood. The pine needles litter the forest floor during dry summer months and form a carpet on the soil, causing the rainwater to run down the slopes before it percolates into the soil. The highly flammable pine needles cause forest fires that inhibit all other species from regenerating.
The Bio Energy Programme employs community members to remove pine needles from large areas of forest floor, simultaneously augmenting local incomes and preventing forest fires. The charcoal produced as a byproduct is sold back to the community reducing deforestation, due to the dependence on forest for fuel wood, as well as ensuring better health through a smoke-free environment.
In 2012, to scale this innovation and bring it to the surrounding communities, we established Avani Bio Energy as an independent power company. In 2013, we began setting up our first village-level 120 KW commercial power plant in Chachret. Now we are planning to set up for four more plants at sites that have already been identified.
By increasing the availability of reliable electricity, we will be driving economic growth in the area. This will, in turn, reduce the migration of men, keep families together, and contribute to the well being of the community as a whole.
Generating electricity from renewable sources also aligns well with local government policy and contributes to reduction in carbon emissions on a global scale.