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Mainstream, VOL LV No 37 New Delhi September 2, 2017

Rural Innovator Still Waiting for Justice

Saturday 2 September 2017, by Bharat Dogra

About two decades ago, Mangal Singh was receiving high praise and appreciation from highly placed officials and scientists. His invention, called Mangal Turbine, meant for lifting water without diesel or electricity, had been widely commended for its high potential of reducing costs of farmers, saving foreign exchange and bringing down greenhouse emissions in a big way. He had also received a patent for this. His village in Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh (Bundelkhand region) was being visited by one dignitary after another. A vast potential of irrigating lakhs of acres of land at low economic and ecological cost as well as reviving several non-functioning lift irrigation projects had opened up.

Now when this brilliant farmer-scientist is 69 years old, he is on the verge of breaking down because of numerous injustices which were inflicted on him by various government officials. A review of these various injustices is available in an officially sanctioned report, called the Maithani Report, on the basis of the name of its principal author, B.P. Maithani, a former Director of the National Institute of Rural Development. This review was ordered by the Department of Rural Development after widespread criticism of the injustices done to Mangal Singh and questions being raised regarding this by several Members of Parliament. This report has clearly said that Mangal Singh was repeatedly harassed and harmed by some officials as well as other powerful interests. In the process he has suffered a lot and the spread of his invention, described by the Maithani Report as unparalleled in its simplicity and utility, has also suffered a lot, resulting in huge national loss.

The big question is: what can be done now at this stage in the form of remedial action? The Maithani Report has also given its recommendations regarding this and the need now is to focus on this so that this highly talented, but badly shattered, 69-year-old farmer-scientist can get some justice in his lifetime and at the same time can guide the efforts for the fast spread of his invention, Mangal Turbine, to wherever it is needed and where conditions suitable for this exist.

The Maithani Report says:

“There is no case against Shri Mangal Singh who needs to be compensated for the losses suffered due to the adversary role played by CAPART in all the projects sanctioned to him simply because he did not ‘please’ them. ...There were some half-a-dozen sites where Mangal Turbines were once operating which were visited by many dignitaries and experts. But these assets have been damaged allegedly by some vested interests with the help of some anti-social elements who did not like the innovation and particularly the low cost construction of check dams as the comparison was exposing their misdeeds. All these sites need to be restored with functioning Mangal Turbines.”

Further this report recommends:

“CAPART should compensate for the damage of its project sites and also the monetary loss suffered by Shri Mangal Singh...One possible way to do this could be to reimburse the net present value (NPV) of the investment made in these projects by Shri Mangal Singh minus the NPV of the amount already released by CAPART.”

This report also recommends that the submergence problems of six Mangal Turbines installed by Mangal Singh can be solved by relocating one turbine which had been arbitrarily installed by some persons at a wrong place resulting in submergence. The Uttar Pradesh Government should be contacted to withdraw false cases against Mangal Singh, defreeze his bank account and restore his land.

In addition, this report has strongly recommended that Mangal Singh needs to be suitably rewarded for his invention and contribution for the betterment of society. Above all, Mangal Turbine should be promoted by not just CAPART but by various agencies of the Government of India, including the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Water Resources Development, NABARD, Horticulture Board, Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, Department of Alternative Energy Sources, Department of Land Resources, DRDAs, PRIs etc.

Remedial action along these lines should be initiated as early as possible as already justice has been denied for too long to the highly talented rural scientist Mangal Singh.

Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62