INNOVATION IN DEVELOPMENT: SOME FORTHCOMING INITIATIVES FROM SUSTECH
ENERGIZING RURAL LIVELIHOODS
Lack of reasonably remunerative livelihood options in rural areas is driving the increasing migratory trends from rural areas to urban areas. Even more than 70 years after independence, the only livelihood options available to people residing in rural areas are agriculture / horticulture, animal rearing, dairy / milk production, poultry, petty shops, small eateries and petty trades such as barbers, carpenters, potters, masons, etc. Setting up of any small or micro entrepreneurial ventures in these areas is seriously constrained by lack of reliable energy supply infrastructure.
SUSTECH enables and empowers rural communities adopt a proto-industrial attitude and work culture thereby making them capable of producing goods comparable in quality to those produced in the industrial sector. SUSTECH also helps make up for the unavailability of power for such enterprises by helping them set up a dedicated and reliable energy supply regime that harnesses renewable energy sources. SUSTECH optimizes the right kind of renewable energy technologies for specific small or micro-industrial activities. Founders, members and associates of the organization have developed innovative approaches and methodologies to mainstream sustainable rural livelihoods. Some rural livelihood interventions that SUSTECH plans to promote in the coming years are weaving, stitching / garment production, spices production, papad making, khoya (condensed milk or milk cake) production, dyeing, knitting, leaf-plate production, edible disposable cutlery production, tussar silk production, low-cost sanitary napkin production, etc.
CLEAN LAST MILE FEEDER TRANSPORT SERVICE
The humble cycle rickshaw has served as a common man’s transport for probably more than a century. Even in modern times, in spite of several motorized forms of transport having been established, the cycle-rickshaw continues to be relevant in the last mile connectivity sector. In the last few years, a silent revolution is taking place and the strenuous cycle rickshaw is being slowly but surely replaced by a motorised version: the E-rickshaw – short form for Electric rickshaw. These are battery operated motorized vehicles. Although the E-rickshaw relieves the operator of heavy physical strain, in effect it is still as polluting as any other petrol / diesel driven vehicle since its batteries are charged through the grid which derives most of its power from coal fired turbines located in thermal power plants.
SUSTECH plans to organize a fleet of E-rickshaws to provide unique last mile connectivity service in a selected neighbourhood. The service will be operated and managed professionally by an association of thoroughly trained E-rickshaw operators. Most importantly, batteries of all E-rickshaws participating in this service will be charged through solar energy. This renders the service completely emission free. In fact, this service can easily qualify the first-of-its-kind clean feeder service in the world.
There is considerable talk of setting up what is called as “smart cities” in India. The present Government is aggressively trying to promote this agenda: already a number of cities have been identified for conversion into smart cities. However, it is equally important and probably simpler to have “smart villages” in the country. Presently SUSTECH plans to establish smart villages in India wherein all basic issues such as infrastructural facilities (roads, community infrastructure), education, health, livelihoods, power supply, drinking water supply, irrigation, internet connectivity services, etc. are available to the community and the coming generations of rural residents are use as well as maintain these facilities to the fullest extent.
FLY-ASH BRICK MANUFACTURE AS A COTTAGE INDUSTRY
For decades, disposal of fly-ash (an environmentally hazardous by-product of thermal power plants) has been a major issue confronting civic authorities. However, thankfully now, a number of alternative uses of fly-ash have been discovered. One of these is manufacture of fly-ash brick. The best part of fly-ash brick manufacture is the non-requirement of baking, which avoids burning of huge quantities of fuelwood and the resultant heavy pollution. Further, there is no need to excavate large tracts of land for clay thereby robbing it of its fertile topsoil layers; rendering it almost barren. Consequently, fly ash brick manufacture is not only highly environmentally friendly but also simple and cheap in economic terms, requiring limited investment and no sophisticated equipment. Further, owing to the superior quality of these bricks in comparison to conventional burnt-clay bricks, in terms of strength and dimensional uniformity they are preferred by buyers and therefore have good sales prospects in the market. Currently these bricks are being manufactured privately. SUSTECH will enable manufacture of these bricks as a cottage based economic activity that people in villages can undertake within the confines of their village itself. The project, when launched can offer a lucrative alternative sustainable livelihood option to villagers offering some semblance of enhanced economic stability.
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