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Learning unlocks all doors

Newsletter Issue 34 : Jan 2013

newsletter character aakrosh water pump women


hand operated water pump

Living on the banks of the Cauvery, in Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, Nagaiyan Sakthimainthan has developed many useful devices for farmers in the delta region.

One of them is a simple hand-operated water-lifter, which weighs 10 kg and can be folded and transported easily. The innovation was the result of a problem unique to the channel-irrigated delta region. In the Cauvery delta, water would sometimes either flow through the channel at a low altitude with the land to be irrigated at a higher level or there would be no flow at all.  People would irrigate the fields by collecting water in bamboo baskets, which was quite cumbersome.

 "It was difficult to get motor pumps (and power connections) in such far-off locations. So I made this simple hand pump using discarded cycle parts at a cost of just Rs.1,200," says Sakthimainthan.

The Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur, West Bengal, modified the equipment to make it more effective and fixed Rs.5,000 as the commercial price of the equipment. Now Sakthimainthan is trying to find a manufacturer from Coimbatore to produce the equipment on a large scale.

A Class VI dropout, he revised the equipment five times in 10 years. More than that, he has had to face the ridicule of neighbours. "They used to make fun of me and thought I was mad. I would hide the equipment in a sack while taking it to the fields," he says. Today, Sakthimainthan is proud to have applied for a patent for the hand-held pump to the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. He has also designed a low-cost rope-making machine, which uses paddy straw and a self-operating irrigation pipe device to open and close canal pathways in the field, in tune with fluctuating water levels.