Solar Charkha of Ashti getting global recognition

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Nov 2017 10:03:32


By Praveen Vighre,

He was aware of the suffering of farmers right from his childhood. He could also feel the pain of men and women especially those working in farms for hours. On countless occasions, he had also witnessed a sense of ‘helplessness’ on the innocent faces of women in his small village in Wardha District spinning manual charkha (a conventional instrument used for deriving thread out of cotton) day in and day out.

Though the young boy - Rahul Thakre - had no immediate solution for all these, he certainly had a vision to bring in positive change in the lives of villagers one day. Rahul, who is now heading an organisation called Gandhi Gramurja Vikas Sanstha, in association with Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Rural Industrialisation, managed to design a unique solar engery-operated charkha bringing a sigh of releif for hundreds of weavers across the country.

In an informal disccussion with The Hitavada here on Tuesday, Rahul spoke in detail about the new instrument.
“As my father was a farmer I am aware of the hardship the community was undergoing in farms and other allied jobs. I realised that there is a need to make the lives of villagers comfortable and thus started dreaming about making one or the other instrument.

This is how the idea of developinmg a solar charkha came to my mind,” he recalled.
“Women spinning charkha for the whole day would earn a paltry sum of Rs 30 to 40 at the end of the day. Besides, the manual work was also posing threat to their helath and thus I thought of helping them,” he said.

Rahul discussed the concpet with Deep Verma of Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Rural Industry Development (MGIRI) and his friend Rajesh Gulhane, who is associated with Gandhi Gramurja Vikas Sanstha, Ashti in Wardha.
Together, they started working on the ambitious project and somewhere in 2008-09, the team came out with a model that was operating on solar power.

The team showed the model to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari who took a keen interest in the idea and offered to support them. Later on, field trials of solar charkha was conducted in Khadi Village Industry Commission. Even Kumudben Joshi, the then Chairman of the Commission was also impressed with the concept.In the year 2013, GIZ, a German organisation working on solar-based employment generation, made a study of Solar Charkha through a consultancy firm MART. The firm studied and explored opportunities to turn the concept into a commercial venture.

“Another Gujarat-based firm Well Span also studied the proposal. Later, due to consistent support of Nitin Gadkari and Giriraj Singh, we strated supplying the solar charkha to many weavers,” he said adding that KVIC and MSME Ministry together gave order of over 1,000 in 2015.

As of now, the team has supplied more than 2,000 units bringing smiles on the faces of those spinning cotton on it.
It is interesting to note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on two occasions highlighted and praised the solar charkha in his radio programme ‘Man Ki Baat’. Maharshtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Finance Minister, Maharashtra, Chandrakant Patil, Revenue Minister, Maharashtra, J P Dange, Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra and many others have also appreciated it.

“Besides, a team from Germany had recently visited our unit at Ashti and the news was flashed in German television channels,” Thakre claimed.