From BORDA Partner Exnora
Written by V. Ganapathy, Advisor, Trichy District
In their own humble but unique way, a dozen women of East Devadhanam, Tiruchirapalli town, in Tamil Nadu, celebrated Renewable Energy day, the birthday of the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. They used the copious supply of biogas generated from the DEWATS unit, as fuel to prepare delicious sweets like Kesari and Sundal. These were distributed to about 200 residents of the area and 50 children who are users of the Child Friendly toilet in East Devadhanam.
With the assistance of BORDA Germany, the Exnora International, Chennai, put up the DEWATS at a cost of Rs.7.5 lakhs as a pilot project. About 5,000 litres of black water from the community toilet of the Tiruchi Municipal Corporation is treated in the DEWATS. The treated water is reused for irrigation of a vegetable farmland owned by the Corporation.
About 400 persons in the East Devadhanam locality use the toilet under the pay-and-use scheme. The maintenance of the toilets as well as the Operation and Maintenance of the three modules of the DEWATS unit - the biogas settler, anaerobic baffled reactor and planted gravel filter, are taken care of by the the locality’s women self help groups [SHG’s], most of whom have members with very little education.
The members of the families of the women connected with the DEWATS management have been using the biogas for cooking, heating water, and for frying groundnuts. A few vendors have also used the biogas for boiling milk in order to make tea and coffee. The cultural opposition to eating food cooked on a biogas stove has fortunately vanished. During the floods which hit the locality last year in October and November, the residents were marooned and could not get kerosene oil or firewood for cooking food in their homes, most of which were also inundated. The DEWATS team then cooked food and tea at the Centralized Devadhanam toilet campus using biogas. At last, people fully understood that biogas fuel was as good as any other fuel.
Mr. V. Ganapathy, coordinator of the DEWATS project for Exnora in Tiruchi said that the women SHGs are planning to put up a tea and snacks shop so that the entire gas generated is used profitably. The pressmen and scores of visitors to the sanitation park partook of the sweets and sundal offered, and found no difference in taste. They all agreed that biogas was an excellent alternative source of energy for small communities using DEWATS in a world where fossil fuel resources are vanishing very fast.