SIVAGANGA: Nothing goes to waste here, literally. Setting a perfect example for sustainable waste management is the nondescript panchayat of Kanjirangal in Sivaganga district. The residents not just create wealth from waste, but do much more - generate electricity.
They produce about 500 kg of garbage daily, but don’t have any place to dump it. What they do have, though, are electricity bills, which amount to about Rs 12 lakh a year, or half the panchayat's annual budget, including for street lights. "Our new initiative helps reduce electricity bills and dispose of the waste effectively," explains panchayat president KSM Manimuthu.
The money thus saved can be used to develop the panchayat, which houses about 14,000 people in Arasanipatti, Elanthangudipatti, Kanjirangal, Kakkanji Colony, Kamarajar Colony, Darasatha Nagar, Thendral Nagar and T Pudur villages.
Two tons of garbage can produce 200 units of electricity, which is enough to power 200 tube lights for 24 hours, Manimuthu explains. If they produced 200 units every day, they could save at least `12 lakh per year on electricity bills.
However, since they produce only about 0.5 tons of waste daily, they are likely to get more garbage from Sivaganga municipality. Besides, a market is set to come up in the locality, which could add to the waste generation. Since they launched about a week ago, they’ve generated about 600 units of electricity.
Sanitation workers collect both biodegradable and non-biodegradable garbage from residents’ doorsteps and bring it to the electricity-generating unit. "There, the biodegradable waste is converted into biogas, which is used to produce electricity. The byproducts are sold as pesticide," Manimuthu says, adding that this too can help the panchayat earn money.
The idea of generating electricity from waste was given by Collector P Madhusudhan Reddy, and so far, `65 lakh, from the National Rurban Mission (NRuM), has been spent on the project. The unit has been set up on Thirupattur Road, opposite the panchayat office.
Minister for Rural Development KR Periakaruppan appreciated the efforts of the residents in the panchayat, saying, "The unit serves three purposes - generating electricity, producing pesticides, and disposing waste."