Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fourth Day in India

Breakfast at 7 am. Then at 8am, Gina and I are being picked up by Piyus Joshi and Falguni in a rented taxi, to be driven to the Narmada Dam. First we head north, to pick up the engineer Pandya who works at the power station of the dam, and with him we will get access to the inside of the station. The whole ride takes several hours, driving partly on the expressway towards south, then leaving it and driving on smaller roads which lead through bustling little towns.

We stop at the heritage site Dabhoi, where we can see two ancient gates with rich ornaments.

Lunch at a rest stop. Delicious fried chillies - I cannot stop eating them!

We arrive at the flat where Pandya lives - that is where we will spend the night. We are not allowed to take many things into the power station, especially cameras are forbidden. I take mine in the pocket, since it is so small. Several control posts control access to the dam area. The vehicle is searched with mirrors, we all have to get out and go through a metal detector. When I go through, it gives an alarm. I begin emptying my pockets, first the paper-based notebook which I always carry with me, then the pen, then the roll of emergency toilet paper which may come handy, and then the guard is already satistfied, and I can go through.

A tunnel leads into the rock downwards. Inside is a huge hall, where 6 generators can create a total power of 1.2 GWatt. They are off now, are only to be switched on when demand raises. The dam's main purpose is not creating power but providing irrigation.

Afterwards we drive back to the engineer's flat, pick up our staff, and drive to a sustainable farm where a family provides for all their needs on their land. They do not use pestizides, have a very economic use of water, and have something very interesting: solar cookers from the German company of Wolfgang Scheffler. A parabol dish similar to a large satellite antenna directs the sunlight onto a single spot where a pot stands - and this pot would be heated by the sun rays. A spring-powered mechanism moves the "antenna" so that the pot is always in the hot spot (focal point) of the mirrors.

Furthermore, the family manufactures soap and healing powders for various illnesses. Everything is made so that it uses the least possible amount of energy and resources.

I discuss with one of the sons the implications of our modern technology. While he advocates a life back to the origins and suggested to limit human curiousity and the quest for "progress" as it has brought much bad consequences (atomic bomb, climate change, destruction of nature and natural resources), I advocated a quest for progress to overcome these difficulties. I would not want to live in a society that is completely without growth, and I would not be satisfied with the simple life alone. Human quest for knowledge has not yet produced a knowledge of everything, as every answer to any question raises new questions. And we need to follow those questions and try to answer them. This is only possible by using significantly more than just the standard resources which a tribal community would consume. But of course we need to watch that everyone gets his/her fair share in the use of these resources, and that they are not exploited too much and destroyed by over-utilisation.

We head back in darkness to Pandya's flat where we go to sleep around 10pm. Will have to get up very early in the morning.

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