[This is a continuation of our previous blog ‘Solar mini grid installation in Baitadi | Part 1’. We suggest you to read the earlier blog before enjoying this prologue.]
-Sagar Phoju, Installation Engineer
Although this was our second trip to Malladehi, the community where the Microgrid was to be installed, they welcomed us like it was our first. We were covered with garlands from head to toe while bands played in the back.
After a day’s rest to release the exhaustion of our 4 day-long trip, we headed off to work. The snow had already melted at this point and softened the soil. This aided us in the installation of transmission poles. We started our work early in the morning each day to escape the beating summer heat. 10 AM marked our lunch time and we would rest under the shades of solar panels we had mounted earlier. We resumed installing the poles again at 2 in the afternoon when the sun wasn’t as harsh.
It took us 30 full days of tiring repertoire before all 92 transmission poles were erect.
A team of ours was simultaneously working on the extension of transmission wires. Another group of two led the construction of a power house that stored the energy produced by the Microgrid. These tasks were as daunting as ours. Extending transmission lines involved considerable risks of falling from 8 metre high poles that hung on weak-sedimented cliffs. Materials required to build the power house had to be carried for 3 days through mountainous terrain – and on shoulders. Combined, these three tasks were the largest infrastructural development in Malladehi by far.
Celebration was, thus, inevitable.
The entire village partied upon hearing that construction of the Microgrid had completed after a 4 month stretch. Even before homes were lit with our Microgrid’s energy, bands started drumming and traditional wine drowned the village. Our stay in Malladehi had coincided with the marriage season in Nepal and we were invited to attend three more parties consecutively. At each, we were hailed as messiahs for bringing energy to their remote community. Prayers abound, the Malladehi village development council commissioned traditional dances for us. We danced to the tune of each.
Another Malladehi resident gifted us Sakkhar, a type of wild sugar prepared by manually grinding sugarcanes.
The next day was to test our fate. We had set up all connections for the Microgrid but were yet to power it on. The entire village crowded around the power house in anticipation.
When we switched the main power line on, children ran to their homes to check if their newly installed lights were lit. When they shouted in affirmation, old men and women who still surrounded the power house, shouted in unison.
Malladehi saw light for the first time in its 200 years of existence. What will follow is a gradual process of development for the 500+ residents living there.