In Their Elements| 15mins
Director: Inder Kathurai | Producer: British Council
Focus Years: 2008 | Country: India
More than 1,000 villages scattered along the highest fringes of the Himalayas go without electricity throughout winter, depending only on supplies of fossil fuel. Their lifeline is an environmental and health hazard; besides, it fails to sustain social and economic activities through the months when the mountains are cut off from the rest of the country. While the terrain and intermittent sun proved a challenge, villagers here have now turned around the elements, harnessing power from a solar-wind hybrid system. Trekking the icy slopes of freak altitudes, Inder Kathuria's "In Their Elements" tells the story of hundreds of villagers who have changed their lives with a little "alternative" thinking. Lossar and Yoche - two villages in the cold deserts of Lahaul-Spiti - are the stages of this simple technology innovation. The solar-wind hybrid system (SWHS) offers all-weather power supply, with simultaneous use of solar panels and a windmill. Settling in with the hardy villagers, "In Their Elements" tells their emotional stories of empowerment and liberation, thanks to an energy solution. In villages high up in the mountains that slip out of the power grid during hostile winters for four to six months at a time, such energy solutions can also be life-saving. The film also looks into the potential of this cost-effective, low-maintenance, hybrid system to change the traditional mode of energy use in more than 1,000 such remote, high-altitude, ecologically fragile villages. Capturing the spectacular landscape of the cold deserts and the colourful life of the mountain villages, the film is a visual treat.