Friday, July 4, 2008

Alternate fuel: Poop power fuels idli joint in Puducherry

Sivagami begins early at the Puducherry bus stand as she busies herself in a small food joint. Idlis are her specialty, only they come with a twist.

Apart from LPG cylinders, Sivagami also fuels her stove using gas supplied by a biogas plant just outside her kiosk.

The plant produces gas from human and food waste round the clock, and has been helping her battle the on-rush of hungry workers for a year now.

So unperturbed by the rising fuel prices, Sivagami says, "The LPG cylinders are getting too costly. Biogas has helped me save three to four cylinders per month."

Approximately, 8,000 people use the toilets at the bus stand everyday and almost 30 toilets are connected to the underground biogas plant.

The concept of biogas has been around since the 70s and lakhs of villages around the country still depend on gobar gas for their cooking needs. But now factories in big cites and even small towns like Puducherry are looking to tap this organic renewable energy.

But the question of the urban mindset remains – is the average consumer ready to accept this form of fuel to cook?

Many say, “source doesn't matter, energy matters.” While others at the bus stop say, “I will never eat that food.”

Biogas may never replace LPG in urban Indian households simply because there just isn't enough organic input to convert to fuel. But offices, hotels and commercial hubs around the country can take a leaf out of Sivagami's dhabha and her fuel efficient and eco-friendly idlis.

No comments: