Intermittent power cuts are no longer a barrier to adequate illumination on a small stretch of East Coast Road. The Mamallapuram town panchayat’s move to install a bio-gas plant has not only helped provide continuous lighting and save money but has also become a model for study as is evinced by visits by students to the plant.

The 100 cubic metre bio-gas plant, installed at a cost of Rs. 20 lakh in a compost yard, uses 500 kilograms of bio-degradable waste to produce 40 cubic metre of bio-gas every 12 hours. This is used to run a 10 kilowatt (KW) generator that produces 8 KW of electricity which powers 30 street lights. Each of the lights — a 96 watt compact fluorescent bulb — has been functioning from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. without any interruption for the last three months.

On an average, around 5,000 kilograms of garbage is generated daily in areas under the civic body. Prior to the tapping of bio-gas-generated power, the civic body used to shell out Rs.6,600 a month to the State electricity authorities for powering the 30 street lights. Now, the total cost of operating them has come down to only Rs. 600.

Civic body officials said the bio-degradable waste generated by various establishments would be more than sufficient to operate 3 bio-gas plants. The electricity generated from such plants would be sufficient to run around 60 to 90 more streetlights, they added.

Schools seem to have chosen the plant as a regular stop on education trips. Recently, a batch of students from a school in Kilpauk visited the plant on their way to Mamallapuram.

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