Rural wisdom

TECHNOLOGY and Action for Rural Advancement, tara , which is a part of Development Alternatives, an ngo in New Delhi, is manufacturing products using biomass and other local raw materials like paper and building materials ( Development Alternatives , Vol 7, No 3).

The power plant converts renewable biomass fuels (including mainly local agro-wastes and unusable weeds) into 80 kw of electricity using a highly efficient gasifier and diesel generating set. The power plant has a capacity of 100 kw. A pyrolysis unit also generates excellent charcoal from local biomass. These fuel conversion technologies have been developed by various research institutions in India and are optimised for local conditions. The electricity generated caters to the needs of the manufacturing plants, training establishment, the artisans' village, and other facilities for community interaction like an open air theatre.

For the handmade paper unit, cotton rags from nearby urban markets and textile mills, used paper and waste biomass are used. The paper unit occupies more than 500 sq m of covered and open area for pulping, lifting, drying and finishing of paper. The layout and placement of workstations have been carefully designed to simplify and reduce movement of materials, energy and people, leading to considerable savings in piping, wiring and human effort.

The structure therefore uses a series of arches built with hand moulded stonecrete blocks. Where the building is not exposed to water, the walls are made of compressed earth blocks. In dry areas, the roof is made with micro-concrete roofing tiles.

The roofing tiles are coloured green to blend with the foliage. The materials used for construction are largely of low to medium energy intensity. Wherever possible waste and recycled material available locally are used. Use of industrial building products have been minimised.