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Solar charkhas to revolutionize khadi production
20
Apr '12
Solar charkha, developed by Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Rural Industrialization (MGIRI), Wardha, is set to revolutionize the way khadi is produced in India.

The Karnataka state Khadi and Village Industries Board has decided to introduce solar charkhas for the first time in Imangla village of Chitradurga district of the state.

The step is expected to revive the ailing khadi industry in the state as the solar-power run charkhas would reduce the amount of physical strain and bring relief to both spinners and weavers.

Dr. HD Sinnur, Principal Scientific officer at MGIRI, told fibre2fashion, “The Karnataka Khadi and Village Industries Board has allocated a fund of Rs. 50 million for introduction of solar charkhas in the state. Though the amount has already been indicated in the state budget, a formal approval from the state government is still awaited. As soon as the state's Ministry of Industry clears the proposal, we will immediately start working on the project to introduce solar charkhas. The implementation process would take a maximum of 5-6 months time.”

Informing about the rationale behind developing solar charkha, he says, “The people who work on simple charkha driven-by-hand hardly get Rs. 30-40 after working for 8 hours a day and enduring physical strain. This has resulted in people leaving the vocation for other tasks that yield high income. So, we thought that if we can increase the earnings of these weavers to a minimum of Rs. 100 per day, then the number of workers leaving the vocation would reduce.”

Revealing more about solar charkha, he says, “The component of a simple charkha that is driven by a woman has been solarized. It means the charkha rotates with the help of solar power generated from the sun. In most of the areas, especially in the hilly areas and in the southern states, sunshine is available in huge amounts. This energy can be utilized for a fruitful work, instead of being wasted.”

Explaining the contribution of MGIRI in the making of solar charkha, he says, “Our contribution is that we have made the charka run at a very low wattage; the energy consumption involved is very less. Normally, it requires 120 watts of energy to run one charkha, but the solar charkha developed by MGIRI runs on only 37 watts. That is the major contribution of MGIRI – we have produced energy efficient charkas.”

The introduction of solar charkhas is expected to contribute in raising income of weavers and also in employment generation. “A woman, who earlier used to work on only one simple charkha, would now be able to work on four solar charkhas simultaneously and can earn more than Rs. 250 per day. It will naturally promote employment generation,” he quips.

However, Mr. Sinnur opines that it would be wrong to term fabric produced using solar charkhas as khadi. He avers, “A fabric can be termed khadi only when it is handspun and handwoven. So, the yarn made on solar charkhas would be called solar yarn and the fabric produced will be solar fabric. Similarly, a garment manufactured from solar fabric will be called a solar garment. That is how we have named it. Thus, it is something different form khadi and has its own roots.”

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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