Catching the wind

A small independent local project is lighting houses in a village in Mustang.

Inverters, solar power cells and backup generators is what we turn to when we don’t get electricity for a few hours, but villages in areas such as Mustang have nothing to turn to, even as they have never had electricity in their houses.

Tashi Bishta is among the few venturing to bring electricity to one such village, Nyamdo, in upper Mustang, a popular destination among trekkers.

Bishta developed his plans to ‘catch the wind’ by running a wind turbine plant to produce electricity in Mustang when he was travelling with French art restorer Nelly Rieuf on a north-south tour of India. During the tour, Bishta met Jorge, an electrician from Ecuador volunteering at small-scale electrification projects in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Bishta, keen on learning from Jorge, spent some time with him to learn more about wind turbines.

When Bishta returned to Mustang, he immediately started working on the wind turbine project. He, together with Funjok Gurung, a Mustang local, and Jeevan Oli collected funds from the village to make the project a shared responsibility. Oli and Gurung then spent one- and-a-half months as a trainee in south India, learning about the workings of wind turbines. Upon their return, the trio collected funds again to finally build a pilot wind turbine. The team lit its first bulb using electricity from a wind turbine on the night of August 14, 2012.

Soon after, the three started work on setting up a 800watt wind turbine that would power two bulbs in five houses.
There has been no looking back for Bishta and his team. This year they plan to go back to Nyamdo to connect electricity to at least 20 more houses. “The turbine project is just a spark that will ignite many other future development projects in our villages,” says Bista.

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