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Forty-five M.Tech. students of Power & Energy, Control & Instrumentation, along with faculty members Dr. Ilango K. , Ms. Jayasree P. R. and Mr. Bharat K. R. from the Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Amritapuri campus spent August 12th and 13th, 2016, as a part of co-curricular activity in Munnar and Idukki. First day they visited the Neraimangalam dam and hydro power plant. In the Amrita SeRVe village of Komalikudi, Idduki they visited the micro hydro power plant ,and enjoyed fresh water from the borewell and distribution system, both built by their fellow students and faculty in a Live-in-Labs® project. In Komalikudi, they also spent the day interacting with the village children and helping them celebrate Independence Day.
They were on a unique style of field trip that blended technological study with direct application in the field, along with social service. This highly practical and unique mix is a specialty of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The students were in charge of all aspects of organizing the travel plan, including transport, housing, food, local liason and activities with the village children. On trips like these, the faculty has the chance to get to know their students better and the students have the chance to hone their leadership and organizational skills. This attention to the wholistic development of the students is another hallmark of Amrita.
A day spent analyzing the plant at Munnar, a large scale industrial hydro power system, run by the KSEB to supply power to the state, was then contrasted with the analysis of a micro hydropower unit, designed to power one remote village. This analysis required a one kilometer demanding climb up and down slippery slopes to the location of the check dam and then down to the power plant in the ravine below. It was really amazing to think that all the heavy metal pipe, concrete and machinery had to be carried over this terrain using manpower only. That manpower consisted of the Amrita students and faculty themselves, with some help from the local villagers and they somehow managed to complete the construction part of the project in a month, despite bouts of heavy rain!
Back at the community center, the batch that was not hiking to the plant interacted with the village children. Before the Amrita Rite Educational Centre, managed by AmritaCREATE, the children were unkempt and shy. Now they are neat and confident and participated eagerly in all the games, singing, dancing and discussions. The students of Amrita arranged to have a meal prepared and they all sat down and ate together. At the end of the visit, the group celebrated Independence Day by passing out flags and discussing its meaning and singing the national anthem together. After the final shouts of “Bharat Mata ki JAI” died down, sweets and gifts were passed out and the students boarded the bus back to the Amritapuri campus.
Even just a day long interaction has a powerful effect on the village children and the students. Because of these interactions, the children have become more self-confident, able to interact with all kinds of people and their general knowledge and feeling of connection to the rest of the world has been improved. The students shared that it was a heart opening experience for them and they felt a lot of satisfaction to be able to give back something to the less fortunate. Many of them had not visited a tribal area before or seen a poor village and meeting these relaxed and resourceful people, was an eye opening and thought provoking experience. They could see what a difference having water and electricity made for the villagers, things most of us take for granted. And they could see that difference had been made by students just like themselves.
For more details on the micro hydro project, click here.