Boost for tourism! How this UN award-winning Himalayan expedition is bringing electricity, sustainablility to remote villages

Global Himalayan Expedition has successfully electrified 32000 households impacting the life of 60,000 villagers.

Global Himalayan Expeditions, Himalayan project electrifying villages, sustainable development in Himalayan villages, United National Climate Action Awaards
GHE has already brought lights to 130 villages across three Himalayan regions of Leh, Ladakh and Meghalaya . (GHE Official website)

Mohan Bhargava of the mountains! Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), the only recipient of the United National Global Climate Action Awards from India after tech giant Infosys, with its formidable endeavours is doing something that even the government agencies could not. A brainchild of an electrical engineer Paras Loomba, the small firm is electrifying remote villages in the Himalayas.

The initiative has already brought lights to 130 villages across three Himalayan regions of Leh, Ladakh and Meghalaya in the past six years. Not just clean energy, the firm is also helping the community get digital education and generate jobs. Talking to IE, Loomba said that he is inspired by Sir Robert Swan the first person to set foot on both the Earth’s poles and was driven by the zeal for doing something tangible for the communities in the remote villages of the Himalayas. Coming from an Army upbringing, he has often been to expeditions to Ladakh and also undertook an expedition to Antarctica under Sir Swan.

Loomba’s tryst with bringing electricity to remote Himalayan villages started in 2013 when he launched an expedition to Leh. With the funds collected, he set up an education base where students would design robots or recycle waste and understand experiential education. This is when he realized the lack of electricity is a great barrier to progress in this region given the geographic remoteness. These villages he said had solar panels but relied on kerosene for fuel demands. Loomba further said that with grid electricity one can power multiple lights or devices. Hence he started installing solar micro-grids that use Direct Control Technology and comes in 12 and 24 volts and is shockproof.

How GHE funds its projects

GHE conducts expedition to Himalayan villages with participants from all across the world and uses the fund collected in transportation installation, the capital cost of hardware and training the villagers to scale solar micro-grid. After installation, the power infrastructure is owned and operated by the inhabiting communities. Some of the participants also crowdfund the expedition to create awareness about the drawback of such remote locations.

Engineers accompany these expedition takers to the villages where they are explained about grid power, solar power and more. One night they are cut off from power and as they experience total darkness they understand the need for light in life and start working on micro-grids, says Loomba.

How GHE helped so far

The enterprise has successfully electrified 32000 households with CO2 free fuel impacting the life of 60,000 villagers. The remote villages now have a total solar capacity of 360 kW. By eliminating the need of kerosene as a fuel, CO2 emission has been cut down by 35, 000 tonnes says Loomba. GHE has also helped the communities to build their livelihood by promoting local handicraft of the place Villages are now opening up to homestay enabling a 45% increase in household income.

The GHE COO Jaipdeep Bansal informed that they are collaborating with corporate houses so that they sent their employees to expeditions and also reaching out to the university to involve more youth in their initiative. Bansal first took an impact expedition as a volunteer and then joined the enterprise.

Future plan of GHE

The GHE wants to revive tourism in these Himalayan villages that were worst hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. That has now taken their pledge beyond electrification to greenhouse technology and solar water heaters to ensure better cultivation. They are planning to train people to adopt smart agriculture. There are also planning to take their initiate abroad as lack of access to clean energy is not just an India specific problem. They are charting remote areas in Nepal, Madagascar in South Africa to launch expeditions there so that travellers can fund their model. The enterprise is also working on developing indigenous technologies like Travel Info Server, ‘Homestay Travel Information Server’ interface to monitor health parameters etc to help these remote locations attain sustainable development.

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