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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Swadesh - Inspired by Real Story 

The Recent Bollywood Flick - Swadesh is inspired inpart by a Maryland-based Association of India'sDevelopment (AID) effort that saw two of their 'jeevansaathis' - Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi - quit their jobs in the US and return toIndia to work on micro-hydel project in Bilgaonhttp://www.aidindia.org/projects/illus/pedal.htm

Director Ashutosh Gowariker visited their project andacknowledges them in the credits.The 2.15 KW Bilgaon Micro-Hydro Project lights everyhouse of a tribal village.Two metre check dam diverts water to the turbine.Remote tribal villages on hills with waterfalls havenatural energy to rotate a turbine and generateelectricity, without displacement or environmentalcosts.

Bilgaon, a village in Nandurbar District,Maharashtra with 12 hamlets, 180 families and aboarding school of 300 children has been in darknesseven after 55 years of independence. Thanks to AID support (Rs 12,00,000), support from theschool (Rs 50,000) and 2000 person-days of voluntary labor (shramdaan) put in by the villagers, they nowhave tube-lights in every house and school. Day time electricity will be used for pumping drinking water, creating a grain bank through community agriculture,nursery for aforestation and livelihood generationthrough small-scale enterprises.

The projects was designed by People’s School ofEnergy, approved by the Chikali Gram Panchayat andimplemented by Bombay Sarvodaya Friendship Centre. The village people inspired by the Narmada Bachao Andolan(Save Narmada Movement) did not accept any funds for the enormous voluntary work they did from May 2002 toJan 2003. It was inaugurated on the Sankranti day of Jan 14,2003 and has received congratulatory messages from the Rural Development Minister of Maharashtra.

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