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Monks in Thane generate power from biogas

Shree Ma Anandamayi Ashram has adopted a ‘hybrid system’ — using waste to make compost; biogas and solar panels for electricity

mumbai Updated: Apr 15, 2018 23:58 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
The Ashram has 32 vermicomposting pits, which generate the fertiliser required for the organic garden.(HT photo)

Making the best use of nature, monks living at the Shree Ma Anandamayi Ashram in Thane recently setup a biogas plant with solar panels to help produce electricity on the seven-acre plot. The monks, who also run a school by the same name, believe in recycling everything that nature has to provide them.

Apart from the biogas plant, 50 solar panels of 100 watt each have also been installed. The ashram includes vermicomposting pits, a raised vegetable gardening bed and rainwater harvesting, on which, they have been working for past few years.

“Our master believes in not wasting a single leaf, which is why we have 32 vermicomposting pits in our backyard. The compost we get from these pits is used as a fertiliser in the garden, and we use cow’s urine as an insecticide,” said Rayan Iyengar, general secretary of the trust.

On a daily basis, around 100 kg of wet-waste from ashram and school is generated, and all garden waste is fed into bio-digester.

The slurry available from the plant is then used as a fertilizer, whereas the biogas generated from the decomposition of slurry is collected in a balloon, and converted into electricity. The entire process takes around 40 days, after which, around three to four units of electricity is generated each day.

At present, fans in three halls of the ashram work on electricity generated through biogas.

“Apart from the environmental benefits, the entire system acts as an educational tool for our students through which, we teach them about how similar environmental friendly measures can be replicated in their homes and society,” said Balgopal, president and chairman of the trust.

Iyengar said that with the solar panel setup, they will be able to generate around five kilowatts of electricity out of their requirement of eight kilowatts. He said that ever since they had started vermicomposting, they only purchase around three to four tonnes of compost and fertilisers from outside, as compared to 18-19 tonnes earlier.

The rainwater is used to replenish 20,000 sq ft of borewell, the water from which, is filtered and used in the school and ashram, said Balgopal.

“The system set up here is a hybrid, wherein not only the waste is being used to make compost, but solar power and biogas is used to generate electricity. This is one of the few places in the city where a hybrid system such as this has been installed,” said Harish Mistry, Indian Green Building council accredited person (IGBCAP).

Vikal Chaurasia, who runs a company called Urja Setu, said, “Not many people are aware that biogas can be used for generating electricity. The unit setup at the ashram will act as a precedent for other such initiatives.”

First Published: Apr 15, 2018 23:58 IST