Juelkunti (Karnataka): Time was when women of this village of 121 households had
to daily trudge for considerable distances to gather firewood to
light their stoves for cooking. Chulika, an eco-friendly stove,
has halved the trips, apart from considerably bringing down the
pollution caused by wood- and animal dung-fired stoves.
It could annually save 140 million tonnes of trees, says its
developer, Bangalore start-up iSquareD.
"In simple terms, each Chulika stove saves 1,400 kg firewood per
year, which is just half the quantity consumed by a mud stove (chulha),
cumulatively bringing down the rate of carbon footprint, besides
slashing indoor pollution by 80 percent daily," T Pradeep, who
founded the iSquareD, told the IANS from Bangalore.
"So even if a maximum of 100 million village households switch
over to Chulika, it could save 140 million tonnes of trees from
the axe, annually, in India, benefiting our environment
tremendously, and bring down the scale of deforestation," added
Pradeep, whose NGO, Sahuha, is undertaking a pilot CDM (clean
development mechanism) cook stove project with the union Ministry
of New & Renewable Energy. The NGO has also adopted this village
in Kushtagi taluk of northern Karnataka's Koppal district.
Animal-dung and wood-fired stoves are the primary source of indoor
pollution and debilitating health hazards such as pneumonia and
respiratory infections in the developing world, where they kill as
many as two million people every year, including half a million in
India alone, mostly women and children, according to World Health
The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), based in New Delhi, has
reported that chulhas from Juelkunti alone accounted for 93
percent of the community carbon footprint, amounting to 736 tonnes
out of 838 tonnes per year.
If this is the contribution of a single village, then the
aggregate footprint of the chulha-entric 600,000 plus villages in
India would be enormous.
"Certified by the (Bangalore-based) Central Power Research
Institute (CPRI) as one of the world's most energy efficient
natural draught cook stoves, Chulika not only cuts down cooking
time, smoke and use of wood but also halves the number of trips
these women undertake to collect firewood in a month," Pradeep
The CPRI, an organ of the union Ministry of Power, has pegged the
thermal efficiency of the latest improved version of the Samuha
stove, officially known as Chulika Aadi Sri Shakti, at 40.29
percent, as against the 7 to 10 percent for a chulha. The Chulika
needs only two pieces of wood for cooking, instead of several
required by a chulha.
Samuha is also collaborating with the University of Minnesota and
the University of British Columbia on the cookstove project,
looking at their impact on health, with Julian Marshal, assistant
professor of environmental engineering at Minnesota, serving as
its principal investigator.
Malamma Maidger, a daily wage earner in Deodurg taluk of
Karnataka's Raichur district, who has been using two Chulika
stoves, said: "Earlier, we collected three headloads of firewood
for a week and now 1 to 1.5 head loads is enough. And the time
which I had to spend for collecting the firewood is also saved."
Similarly, Mahadevamma, a labourer with a family of seven from the
same area, also switched from three mudstoves to two Chulika
stoves. She said: "With the earlier mudstoves, I had to keep
blowing so frequently that there was more smoke and I used to
suffer from headaches and burning of eyes. Now because of the
Chulika stoves, there is less smoke and my headaches and eyes
burning have also stopped."
"Some 8,000 Chulikas, the latest iteration of which is priced at
Rs 2,200, have already been sold or distributed and demonstrated
in Karnataka, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Orissa,
Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Samuha anticipates sales
of 153,000 and 231,000 such stoves in two years, Pradeep said.
The current cost might seem steep, but dealers are at liberty to
offer discounts. Chulika, with a shelf life of 10 years, compared
to a year for mud stoves, pays for itself many times over, Pradeep
(Shudip Talukdar can be contacted at email@example.com)