Hill station burns biogas that can meet the needs of 300 families
matheran, a hill station 100 km from Mumbai, still relies on horses for transport and is off limits for motor vehicles. In March 2007, the town lived up to its green image by installing a garbage disposal plant that converts organic waste into methane gas and manure. Two years down the line, there are no takers for the gas supplied from the plant that can be used for cooking, electricity generation or as fuel in vehicles. The 250 cubic metres (CuM) of gas produced at the bio-methanation plant every day is now burnt in the open.
The only client the municipality-owned plant had, Usha Ascot Hotel, stopped paying for the gas in April protesting stiff charges; the hotel was using the gas in its kitchens. The municipal council severed the connection in May end.It is now planning to supply the gas (enough to fill a dozen cooking gas cylinders) to two other hotels.
Manohar Tambat, director of the hotel, said the municipal council was arbitrarily charging them Rs 25,000 per month without measuring the gas consumed. "We complained to the authorities several times but to no avail," said Tambat.
B J Nipurte who heads the municipality's sanitation department said ad- hoc charges were levied because the meter provided by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre that assisted in building the plant is not effective. "The meter can measure only one CuM gas per hour and we need one that can measure up to 30 CuM gas per hour," said Nipurte. He said the council is trying to get new meters.
Two other hotels have been given sanction for putting underground pipelines. "Once the pipelines are in place, we will start supplying gas to them," said Nipurte.
Of the five tonnes of waste Matheran generates, two tonnes are horse dung and 1.5 tonnes, kitchen waste. The plant set up at a cost of Rs 33 lakh uses different types of bacteria to break down this waste to produce biogas and manure.