Water mill becomes central to village life

Damodar Bhandari

Binauna (Banke), May 9:

A water mill is playing an important role in the lives of people of Chacharpharka village, nearly 25 kms east of Nepalgunj. It has proved to be the most dependable and economic means of grinding grains.

The watermill has been constructed and run by the Kanya Raja community organisation, formed by farmers of the remote Chacharpharka village in Binauna VDC-8 across the Rapti river. It has a membership of 29 households.

No member of this community organisation is allowed to go out for getting their grains grounded. All members are mandated to utilise the watermill for mincing wheat and maize crops at the water mill.

The watermill is located at the middle of a forest, a kilometre of walking distance from the village.

Secretary of the organisation, Bhim Nath Yogi says the watermill was started as a model for benefit of the organisation. “The watermill was not a choice, but a compulsion through which we had hoped to raise some money. Farmers associated with the organisation have agreed to use the watermill only. This is done to keep the villagers’ money within the village itself,” he says.

According to him, it was built at a cost of Rs 15,000 on April 26, 2002 and is running smoothly since then. The water required for running the mill was brought from a far place, Sundarijal by constructing a dam which took a year to construct, he informs.

The watermill is making nearly Rs 20,000 as a profit in the year, the organisation stated. President of the organisation, Omkar Oli, told both local villagers and the organisation are benefiting from the watermill. “The other mills charges eight rupees for grinding wheat and maize, while charge four rupees only. All members do duty at the watermill on rotational basis. Half of the revenue is taken by the member who stays on duty in the watermill and the other half goes to the organisation,” he added. The watermill is able to establish itself as a model in west Terai. Many visit the forest simply to have a glance at the watermill, says president Oli.

Lots of snags were encountered while establishing the water mill and then running the watermill throughout the year, president Oli said. “Sometimes rainwater hurts the dam, while sometimes it is the cattle. We need to take care of it frequently,” he said.

Oli pointed out the need for financial assistance to help make the mill more efficient. He informed that the water force right now is very small at Sundarijal which could be greatly enhanced if water from Chaudharikhola is also pooled in.