Report from the Rotary Club of Rüsselsheim Mainspitze on the installation of a Hydro Electical power plant in the village of Chepel, Nepal
Four years of preparation were necessary for the realization of an invaluable project for a remote region in the Nepalese Himalayas: Since the beginning of November, 114 households in 9 villages have electricity there for the first time. The president of the Rüsselsheim/Mainspitze, Isabelle Buschulte, gave a talk about her activities for the small Nepalese village of Chepel in 2013, which kicked off the launch of a global grant. This $100,000 grant covers not only the supply of electricity from a small hydro power plant, but also health care, water and sanitation, as well as economic and local development.
Chepel is a small village at an altitude of 2300m (7545ft) in the Nepalese mountain region below Mount Everest with about 400 inhabitants. The whole area around Chepel was without electricity until early November 2017. Specifically, this means, for example, that open fire was the only source of light and that women still had to grind the grain by hand with stone mills.
Chapel can only be reached after a 14-hour adventurous jeep ride and a several-day walk. In this way, all the building material had to be carried from the lowest point to 900m (2952ft) above sea level to Chepel. Tons of construction material were carried over a 250m (820ft) suspension bridge, through narrow, steep paths, through the jungle, through landslides and through streams. Three teams of men carried the 250 kg (551lbs) generator with 20 changes during the trek. This was hung on two long bamboo bars, which kept breaking, and replaced regulary because of the weight. In addition, the men towed 2 200 kg (440lbs) transformers, 1000 ceramic isolators 8 kg each (2.2lbs), 135 65 kg (141lbs) poles, 42 poles, 80 kg (176lbs), 900 pipes (1 pipe is 3m (9ft) long and weighs 24 kg(52lbs), 1 man can carry 2 pipes), and 41,000m (44838yds) of cable over many days to Chepel.
President Buschulte visited Chepel in November 2017 to review the progress of the Global Grant. The plant was scheduled to be commissioned in spring 2018 so the joy was all the greater when the head of the project, Karma Sherpa, led Isabelle to the power station where many villagers and the construction team where waiting. Inside the power station it was quite and all the gauges were zero. Suddenly, the watercourse was released at the top of the retention basin, and the generator started running. They waited for several minutes, while the water flow was adjusted. And all of a sudden, the panel control lights and electrical gauges came on and the very first light bulb in Chepel shone. More than 15 kW was being generated. This was the moment of lift off!"
Having electricity now means that each of the 114 homes in the 9 villages has a LED light bulb. Moreover, there will be grain mills, a refrigerator, and a computer for school."," says Buschulte, "but the benefits for the people of Chepel are hard to understand." Studies show that with electricity and light, education standards in Third World countries are rising significantly.
We would like to thank RDG in Düsseldorf and the Rotary Club of Rugby, England, especially Karma Sherpa, the project manager on the spot, and Rtn. Gaby and Bijaya Mallapaty from the Patan RC, without whose continued support the Global Grant could not have been realized.
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