Mangal Turbine—An Extremely Useful Innovation

Bharat Dogra

A farmer scientist from Bundelkhand region Mangal Singh has made a very important innovation whose importance has been only increasing further with the passage of time but this innovation has remained neglected. Why?

This is a time of worldwide increasing concern to check climate change. If in such  times, an invention which has been praised time and again for its potential of checking climate change is badly neglected, then what should we say?

This is all the more troubling in the context of Mangal Turbine, as in addition this also has the potential of greatly reducing irrigation costs of farmers, enhancing drinking water supply, contributing to decentralised renewal energy and promoting rural cottage industries, some other key concern of our times.

Even the report of an official committee appointed by the Rural Development Ministry of the Union Government (the Maithani Committee Report) has highly recommended this device.

Let us start by first explaining the basics of this device. Mangal Turbine is a device for lifting water from streams or nullah or canal without using diesel or electricity by using the energy of flowing water. It was invented by a farmer scientist Mangal Singh.

Mangal Singh is a farmer of Bundelkhand region who was known at a very young age for his enterprising and innovative farming methods. He used to see regularly that small farmers with low resources have a lot a difficulty in buying diesel for lifting water from streams and rivulets. He started thinking a lot about the possibilities of lifting water from small rivers, nullahs and canals without having to depend on diesel or electricity. After a lot of thinking and experimentation, he came up with a device which could lift water using the energy of flowing streams without depending on diesel or electricity.

This invention was named Mangal Turbine. It was first demonstrated in 1987. Mangal Singh was 40 at that time. Later it was patented as "Mangal Water Wheel Turbine Machine" (Patent No. 177190 dated 13-11-1997) as per Government of India gazette Notification dated 30th November, 1998.

This technology is described by Mangal Singh in the following words, - "The water wheel turbine machine consists of a water wheel which is firmly mounted on a steel shaft and supports on two bearing blocks fixed on foundation supports. The shaft is coupled with a suitable gearbox through universal couplings for stepping up speed of rotation. Output shaft of the gear box is  coupled on one end with a centrifugal pump for lifting water and the other end is mounted with a suitable pulley for deriving power for operating any machine. Design of the water wheel turbine is simple. It is available in different size to meet the varying requirements. Operation of water Wheel Turbine Pump-cum-P.T.O. Machine is very easy as anyone can operate the machine by opening the wooden or steel gate valve, the machine is stopped by stopping the flow of water through the gate."

Apart from lifting water the Mangal turbine (MT) can also be used for several additional tasks. In the words of Mangal Singh, "This is used for pumping water from the rivulets and water streams on which it is installed. The machine can be used for several rural works such as operating atta chakki, sugarcane, crushing, threshing and winnowing, oil expelling, chaff cutting, etc. The machine provides a clean alternative (non-conventional) source of energy in remote rural areas for increasing agricultural productivity, income and employment". By linking it to a generator, this machine can also provide electricity.

The Maithani report has explained the idea and functioning of Mangal Turbine,” Shri Mangal Singh of village Bhailoni Lodh, Block Bar, district Lalitpur UP invented a fuel less water lifting device in 1987. This device is known as 'Mangal Turbine'. There are several variants of the Turbine but the standard device contains a water wheel of 2 meter diameter with 12 blades radially fixed to the rim. The shaft is coupled with a suitable gear box for stepping up of rotation to 1500-1800 rpm. The output shaft of the gear box is coupled on one end with a centrifugal pump for lifting water and the other end is mounted with a suitable pulley to operate any other machine like crusher, grinder etc. By using the energy of flowing water in a stream, Mangal Turbine enables lifting of water for irrigation/drinking purposes and also produces mechanical power that can be used for various other purposes."

At least two former Secretaries of the Rural Development Ministry (B.K. Sinha and S.R. Sankaran) were known to be admirers of Mangal Singh's efforts. B.K. Sinha has spoken widely about the great usefulness of M.T.

B.K. Saha, former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, has written about this device, "I made a detailed analysis of the economic viability of the 'Wheel' and its comparative advantage vis-a-vis alternative methods of pumping water from streams and small rivers for irrigation. The system is extremely cost effective even after taking into consideration the cost of the Stop Dam. Where the Stop Dam is already available the system is even more cost effective. Installation of this device is strongly recommended wherever there is flowing water in small streams by constructing a stop dam and installing one or two water wheels as designed and developed by Shri Mangal Singh. It saves on energy like electricity or diesel and is ecologically completely benign."

The Maithani Report says about Mangal Turbine, "it is undoubtedly unparalleled in its simplicity and utility. Its cost benefit cannot be restricted to the extent of area irrigated and increase in production and income on account of that. Its benefits are multiple and multidimensional.

The value of Mangal Singh's work has increased further in recent times as the need to curb fossil fuel consumption and the related greenhouse gas emissions has increased.

It has been estimated that if one unit of Mangal Turbine runs for 11 hours in a day, then it saves 44 litres of diesel in a day (on the basis of use of 4 litre diesel per hour by 25 HP diesel pump). Again assuming irrigation by MT on 190 days in a year, a single unit of MT can save 8360 litres (44x190) in a typical year. Over a lifetime of 15 years one unit of MT can potentially save 125400 litres (8360x15). In terms of greenhouse gas emissions (using assumption made in US Environment Protection Agency fact sheet) this works out to 335 tonnes. This estimate by Dr. Jai Shankar Singh is made on the basis of the assumption that one unit of MT will lift water from a stream which is equivalent to 25 HP diesel pump set and irrigate a command area of 50 ha.

Reduction in diesel consumption and related GHG emissions can further increase significantly to the extent that the M.T. is used also (in addition to water lifting) for processing of various farm produce and other work.

Civil Society, a leading and respected journal on development issues, has honoured Mangal Singh worth its Hall of Fame Award. The Award was presented to Mangal Singh by eminent social activist Aruna Roy.

Apart from making a very useful invention at a relatively young age (40 years) Mangal Singh has since then distinguished himself by his tireless work and great commitment for spreading this work, making improvements in it and trying to experiment at various sites to improve the location specific effectiveness of his invention. This work he has continued in very adverse conditions and with great financial constraints for nearly 33 years till now (1987-2020).

Instead of rewarding his untiring efforts he has been victimized in several ways. He got a small government grant to install turbines but some corrupt persons harassed him in the process of implementation as he would not ‘please’ them. So these persons held back his funds, the work could not be completed and finally by falsely blaming Mangal Singh his land was auctioned and his passport was seized. The Maithani Committee has mentioned these injustices and the need for remedial action. This remedial action should not be delayed any further.

Mangal Singh is 72 years old now. He has suffered a lot of hardships in recent years. Adequate help should be extended to him to install several Mangal Turbines in varying conditions while at the same time training several rural youths with a technical flair in the work so that this technology with worldwide potential can spread further and make its great contribution to reducing fossil fuels, decentralised renewable energy, helping farmers and cottage scale rural industry.

The writer is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements.    

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Nov 14, 2020

Bharat Dogra

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