Kannada, Kannadiga, Kannadigaru, Karnataka,

Kannadigarella ondaagi Kannadavannu ulisona, kalisona and belesona

The power of an individual-Mr. A. R. Shivakumar


Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Page I

The power of an individual


If the environment around us is still a bit friendly, despite it being heartlessly polluted and looted of its rich wealth, it is because of a few people like Mr A R Shivakumar, a Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator-RWH since November 1981, at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, situated in the lush green campus of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

This humble Engineer is an innovative thinker who has been fascinated by the power of science in making our lives comfortable as also preserving nature. No wonder he won the National Award for Invention of the High Efficiency Low Wattage Electric Water Heater from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, in the year 2002.

His list of inventions is quite long starting with the Sisal Decorticator, which he developed as part of his final BE project in 1981 and won the State Science Council award. This design of Mr. Shivakumar was later adopted as the national design and today thousands of farmers across the country are using this simple machine to separate the fibre from the sisal plant locally, to avoid transportation costs and improve the efficiency. He was one of the scientists, who advocated the popular energy saving ASTRA stove and worked for its dissemination to remote villages. He then improved the design of bullock carts to suit the unfriendly roads of the villages, invented the low cost eco-friendly, solar godowns to dry coconuts within 6-7 months, coconut frond shredders for optimum use of dry fronds and so many other small things to help the rural sector.

These innovations apart, Mr. Shivakumars contribution to rainwater harvesting is something that needs to be stressed upon. His house Sourabha is a place every Bangalorean must visit. Adopting all the points he propounds, Mr.Shivakumar saves nearly nearly 30-40per cent power and managing without availing the Corporation water facility! His family of four is able to manage all domestic needs, including gardening, washing the car, etc. with the rainwater they collect in their sump for nearly eight to nine months a year. For the rest of the year, they pump water from their borewell, which is also well recharged with rainwater by direct injection, through infiltration gallery.

His simple and cheap eco-friendly roof integrated solar water heater, designing of rat-trap walls, simple water purifier, which needs no power, solar cooker, solar lighting and adoption of very simple methods like painting the terrace white, strategic placement of windows and doors and having water bodies and greenery all around have all helped the family save power to a major extent. Added advantage is that the members remain in the pink of health.

But Mr Shivakumars knowledge is not restricted to benefiting family. He wants to help the State in which he lives as much as possible and has been toiling for this with pleasure. He was the principal instigator of the first ever structured pogramme on RWH under the Indo-Norwegian Project in 2002. This was a Rs.50-lac project interestingly born at Mr.Shivakumars house, which impressed the Norwegian Councillor very much.

Ten Demonstration Plots were taken up and they were Vidhana Soudha, High Court, GPO and Mail Motor Service, GKVK, Fire Station, Rajajinagar, Kengeri Beedi Workers Housing Colony, Kidwai Memorial Hospital, Collegiate Public Instructions, KSCST and the BMP buildings. Besides, two exhibition plots at Banshankari BWSSB Service Station and the BMP Day Care Centre at Richmond Town were also taken up.

Working on this project was a very fulfilling experience. Each building is a marvel in its own and I can write a book about this project. For instance, when we took up the High Court building and went on to the roof top to look for the drain pipes from there, we were astounded to find none all around the building. We had to research a lot to realise that the pipes were embedded inside the lovely red pillars of the building. What a wonderful way of hiding those ugly pipes.

Mr A R Shivakumar.

Then, coming to Vidhana Soudha, executing the RWH project was a challenge because we were given strict orders that the beauty of the building should not be marred in any way. After a lot of thinking and planning, we had to bring the rainwater outside the building through ventilators of the five feet thick walls in the basement.

My BMP project was also very interesting. Just as I entered the BMP office, I found the old swimming pool being demolished. I rushed to the Commissioner and requested him to stop that work immediately, because that pool was a wonderful, huge tank, where lakhs of litres of rainwater could be stored. The Commissioner was very cooperative and today, you can see a lovely landscape above the pool and below it is stored all the water, which meets the needs of the BMP office for the whole year.

Low wattage heater.

At GKVK, we have executed a zero-discharge project, which ensures that not even a drop of water goes waste, says Mr Shivakumar.

Mr Shivakumar has conducted 26 training programmes for different target groups like the architects, builders, contractors, plumbers, service providers, planners and policy makers, IAS, IPS and IFS officers. He also fondly remembers his active participation in the Government of India, Department of Science and Technology funded project in Tumkur, where too, ten public buildings such as the Government Hospital, DC’s Office, SIT, etc. were taken up for implementing RWH schemes.

Mr V P Balegar, IAS was very supportive in setting up quasi-Government Rainwater Resource Centres in each District and also implementing the RWH project at least in a minimum of 20 houses in each village of every taluk, covering all the 176 Taluks of Karnataka, he says. The personnel in these district centres will be trained and attached to the local Engineering College.

Arghyam, a voluntary organisation under the leadership of Ms.Rohini Nilakeni will extend its support to monitoring all the activities in the rural RWH programme.

Mr Shivakumar goes all out to see that RWH is adopted by as many Bangaloreans as possible and hence participates in a number of Radio and TV programmes to give publicity to this essential concept.

Besides, Mr.Shivakumar has published Amruthavarshini a guide for RWH in Kannada & English. He has also published a number of articles and papers on the topic individually as also in cooperation with his colleagues. He has been instrumental in providing technical support and specifications for RWH in the Government Schools of Karnataka. The RWH team of the KSCST consisting of enthusiasts like Mr.Shivakumar visit various districts in the State for advising and guiding the field level implementation of team for installation of RWH in 23000 23683 rural schools.


Coconut frond shredder.


Karnataka Vikasa the Government of Karnataka journal, has extensively covered the experiences and success stories of the various RWH projects in the State.

Apart from his pet project of RWH, Mr Shivakumar fondly remembers his success story when he was on a 6-year deputation to International Energy Initiative for Energy Planning and Conservation, where he worked for a project on Sustainable Energy Supply funded by the Rockfeller Foundation.

It was a very rich experience. I realised the strength of involving communities in self governance. Our country really needs many such projects, because the Government cannot meet the needs of all the remote villages with its limited funds and infrastructure. I was the Programme Executive for Asia Office.

Under that project, we had chosen ten villages and set up low-cost community bio-gas plants. We used to ask the farmers to deposit cattle dung at the plants every morning and paid them 5 paise per kilogram for dung transfer. They were permitted to take back an equal quantity of used up dung, which was now more enriched and served as better manure for their farms. A pass book was maintained to keep note of the dung deposited and taken back. With a simple bio-gas engine, electricity was produced under the supervision of just a local attendant. This power was supplied to all houses. Each house was provided with one tube light point and a tap.

The same engine used to produce electricity during the night and pump water to the houses during the day. Each family had to spend just Rs.10 per month. towards maintenance of the engine and salary of the attendant. The project took off very well and the people too were very happy, as they received water and power at their doorsteps at such a minimum cost. The villages almost became self sufficient and did not bother about the electricity supply not reaching their villages.

However, it is sad that in a few years, due to various obvious reasons, the projects started fizzling out in the villages. Today, Mavinakere village alone continues to successfully operate this bio-gas plant. The Mahila Sangha runs the unit under the supervision of BAIF (Bharatia Agro Industries Foundation). Such models should be publicised more if all the villages in India are to progress soon, says Mr. Shivakumar.

This world will be a much better place if each one of us is as motivated as Mr. Shivakumar to conserve energy, water and protecting the eco-system.




March 16, 2008 - Posted by | Kannadigas


  1. I am very impressed at the amount of work and the range that has been undertaken by you, Mr Shivkumar. I am very disenchanted by the ignorance of the people of this country regarding our environment and it is heartening to know that wonderful men like you are at the helm of affairs somewhere doing their bit to change things around. Thankyou and Bravo! Surupa Sen

    Comment by surupa sen | March 8, 2009 | Reply

  2. Well done, Mr.Shivkumar, keep it up !
    Hope the GOI and other State govts will effectively use your dedication and knowledge !

    Comment by V.Jayaraman | March 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. Producing electricity from green energy(biogas+wind+solar)has been sucessfull in europe & by 2020 they will be selfsustaining for their energy requirements from green energies.

    Indians have just started,but its never too late, with people like Mr.Shivkumar really struggling to make things happen we can achieve what europe has managed to achieve.

    Bravo Mr.Shivkumar.Keep going.

    Comment by kedar marathe | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Need some idea as to what to do with coconut fronds which fall off regularly. These have been carted off to the Door to Door Garbage Van.

    Comment by satpathi | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  5. Fantastic Mr.Shivakumar. You have done a great job. I too stay in Vijayanagar and intend to biuld a house shortly. You have done it all which i had visualised vaguely. Longing to meet u soon.

    Comment by Anantkrishna Vithal | July 4, 2010 | Reply

  6. It’s very useful to all and us , I am very much impressed with your thoughts. I got the best information from this site of the blog, That article was amazing. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Comment by plumbers in secunderabad | July 20, 2016 | Reply

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