This village in Gulbarga reuses human refuse as kitchen fuel

Taboo flushed out

This village in Gulbarga reuses  human refuse as kitchen fuel

Ningappa Mangondi, a school teacher in this remote village of Aland taluk, thought ahead of his times 10 years ago and came up with the idea of a mini biogas plant using easily available raw materials like cow dung as well as human excreta and urine.

Today, the hearths in the village burn on the biogas - something the people had scorned when he first took the green step. In a region where people are reluctant even today to get toilets constructed in their homes and womenfolk face embarrassing moments defecating in the open, the biogas initiative is indeed a progressive one.

However, the idea of getting toilets constructed at home is slowly gaining popularity. What more, the byproduct from the biogas units is used to manufacture compost manure.

In 2002, Ningappa became a harbinger of change when he mooted the idea of getting toilets constructed in the village, and 25 families showed interest. Subhashchandra, a social activist working for an NGO, took the idea a step forward. He said the toilets could well eliminate the use of traditional firewood hearths.

The proposal raised the eyebrows of others who had, till then, only heard of producing biogas from cattle waste. Cow dung was not sufficient to produce substantial amount of gas. An arrangement was made so that cow dung and water entered the specially designed chamber from one side and human excreta from the toilet from the other.

The apparatus cost Rs 18,000 each at that time. In the beginning, only Ningappa and two others opted for the set-up. Gradually, Ningappa and his wife Nandadevi - who heads a women’s self-help group - brought others around to the idea. In course of time, 18 biogas units came up. Presently, 28 more units are being constructed.

The people here no longer have to make provisions for LPG, kerosene or firewood in their monthly budgets. Another major plus is that it eliminates the inconvenience due to the smoke coming out of the traditional hearths. The biogas experiment eliminated the stench from open toilets. Every family in the village owns cattle and there was no dearth of dung, one of the key raw materials for manufacturing cooking gas.

The victory of the Ningappa couple lies in the fact that the very people who had flayed them are today advocating the idea vociferously. There are three people and four cattle in the house of Mallamma Veerashetty and there is gas supply for three hours each day, enough for daily cooking.

Saraswathi Shantappa Kounter, a Gram Panchayat member, is the latest to take to the initiative and is getting a lavatory built beside her house: with a biogas unit attached, of course.

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