Paddy farmers of Periyakulam in Thalinji village panchayat near here have planned to generate power using bio-wastes, preferably ‘karuvel' (prosopis juliflora), abundantly available in the area. The generation, as per an action plan evolved, will commence before November this year, facilitating the paddy growers to raise ‘samba' crop.

A decision to this effect was taken at the end of the day-long seminar on ‘community-managed biomass power production for enhancing agriculture production through improved rain-fed tank irrigation systems,' organised by the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, here on Friday. The Foundation has been establishing various irrigational infrastructures through its JRD Eco-Technology Centre, such as rain-fed tanks, for promoting irrigational opportunities in three village panchayats of Thalinji, Ennai and Kadhavampatti.

Periyakulam is the lone hamlet in these village panchayats with worst irrigational facility, although the picture is relatively better in the neighbouring villages. The intervention by the Foundation easily convinced the villagers to establish the gasifier for generating power to be utilised for operating the motor for irrigating the fields.

Speaking on the objectives of the seminar, M. Nageswaran, programme coordinator of Foundation, said that a survey was taken in all the village panchayats and Periyakulam, the tail-end zone, was the worst-hit. It was planned to dig a re-chargeable bore well in the area. The villagers would generate 35 kv of power for operating 10 agricultural motors of varying capacities. About 25 acres would get an assured irrigational facility. “Although farmers were raising paddy in the past, the yield was far below normal due to poor irrigational infrastructure,” he said.

The project is estimated at about Rs.10 lakh and a part of it would be contributed by the Foundation, while Rs. 4 lakh would be mobilised as subsidy from the Central and State government. Farmers would also contribute their share.

T. Thangavelu, Joint Director of Agriculture, said that the Foundation's community-oriented and demand-driven project would bring about permanent remedy to the irrigational problem being faced by the villagers.

Sudha Nair, Senior Project Director of the Foundation, Chennai, explained the various purposes of the gasifier unit. The Foundation would ensure sustainability of the programme. The capability of the local villagers in making the briquette was a major advantage for the implementation of the scheme.

K. Kirubakaran, Director (in-charge), Bio-Energy Centre, Gandhigram Rural University, spoke on the importance of the scheme that will help in providing assured irrigational facility.

Earlier, villagers explained the operation of the charcoal briquette maker. The briquette is being prepared using the ‘karuvel', a low-cost bio-fuel, available abundantly in the village. It has been planned to utilise the briquette in the gasifier.