Energy

As part of the Periurban Initiative, the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS) conducted surveys in 2016 in Sriperumbudur Taluk, in order to assess the socio-economic conditions in the villages. One of them was the Energy-Waste Survey, which assessed the practices and attitudes towards usage of energy resources, waste generation and disposal in 247 households. Below is a compilation of the responses.

The stories unfolded how the Villagers have been facing challenges on access to water in the village for years.

Cooking Fuel

An overwhelming majority (more than 90%) use LPG as cooking fuel. Few still continue to use firewood. The number of people using other sources was negligible. In some places, firewood is used when LPG runs out (#200), mostly for boiling water (#200, #88, #75). While some households buy it from the marketplace (#200, #88), others produce it themselves or collect it from nearby lands (#75, #146). With regards to the LPG cylinders, there were some complaints about delayed delivery (#34), while others were satisfied with the delivery time (#11). Ideally, a cylinder is supposed to reach the household within 5-10 days of booking. In addition, , a cylinder lasts anywhere between a month and 45 days.

Cook Stove

Around 85% of the households use two-burner or 4-burner gas stoves. A small but significant number use three-stone firewood. There was one household which, in spite of owning an induction stove, hardly used it or if used, it was as a back-up cooking device (#11).

Cooking Appliances

Mixer and Grinder were the two most common appliances used. 230 households (93%) had at least one of them, out of which 204 (83%) had both. Electric heaters and toasters were some of the other common appliances. Some of the households owned appliances which were distributed for free during the reign of Amma (Ms Jayalalithaa, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu), While one household had an “Amma” Television and Mixer (#242), another possessed a mixie and a grinder.

Lighting Fuel

For most households (237, 96%), electricity was the main fuel used for lighting. Among those, tubelights were the most common sources of lighting (209 households). Some households said that they used CFL’s owing to their longevity and cost-effectiveness (#174, #50). There was one household which preferred using tubelights, even though they sold CFL’s in their store (#184). Interestingly, one household did not know if they had CFL or incandescent bulbs. (#33).

Cooling Appliances

Ceiling fans were the most common appliances used for cooling with all but 8 households (240, 97%). 94 of the households surveyed (38%) possessed an air-conditioner. Quite a few households which owned air-conditioners had trouble using them because of the voltage fluctuations (#57,1, #50, #69, #17). This problem especially becomes acute during the evenings and nights. Some felt that this was due to the increasing number of air-conditioners in their neighbourhood, more than what the electricity supply system could support. There was one household which used fans modified from A/Cs. As the household head is an A/C mechanic, he innovatively converts the non-usable A/Cs to fans (#84). There was one house who had to buy vegetables everyday, as they did not have a refrigerator (#26).

Other Appliances

Some interviewees mentioned that they use the TV provided by Kalaignar (#59, #117, #34). There was one household which had a roof top solar powered inverter as a backup device when grid supply is cut off during load shedding hours. They were concerned that they were unable to connect to the solar power during grid supply hours because their supply is connected only through their inverter. (#89). There was one household which owned a Sony 5.1 surround home theatre system (#69).

Non-Conventional Energy

About 23% of the households (56) were aware of the existence and uses of non-conventional energy sources. However, none of the households surveyed used them for daily purposes. A family that hailed from Nagercoil mentioned the stark contrast of how alternative sources were promoted back home to here – with higher awareness and knowledge of wind energy in Nagercoil. (#255) Quite a few households expressed awareness about solar energy but didn’t use it as they felt the installation costs were prohibitively high(#14, #222, #75, #10) . There were some municipalities/panchayats which had installed solar street lights. While some of them worked fine(#182), others didn’t (#143, #174).

Interestingly, the heads of a couple of households had some technical know-how on solar energy. When asked about solar energy within the survey, one of them gave an almost elaborate description of solar energy. He said that there were two kinds of solar energy, one which converted it to electricity and the other that directly used it for the heat. When asked about biogas, he told us that it can be installed in the septic waste collection pit and hence the gas formed there can be directed to the stove (#200). Another head knew the IIT campus well and was part of the company that installed the solar water heaters in the new hostels and wanted to know the efficiency of the same even after he had stopped working for the company.

As he used to work for a Solar Tech company in Guindy, he gave a brief talk on solar energy – the setting up and process while also elaborating about the cost cutting measures due to the usage of CFL bulbs. (#256) Another household in a gated community with 180 households which had made a committee decision to employ solar rooftop panels in every household. Furthermore, there are ongoing discussions about using solar energy to go completely off-grid (#81) One household had CFL bulbs, but they claimed that when the voltage is low, CFL won’t function whereas the incandescent bulbs light would if the voltage is very low and they face this less voltage issue a lot (#143).

Also, one house saw no point in using CFL bulbs as their fuse went often (#265). There were some households which were unsatisfied with the cost-efficiency of alternative energy sources (#75). On the brighter side, others reported that they did save some considerable cost by using them (#200, #10). There were also some complaints about unavailability of alternative lighting sources in their areas (#3, #11). One household felt that an air conditioner was not a necessity, as they were harmful to the environment with all the CFC emissions (#75).

Electricity

A lot of areas faced power cuts of various durations. One household mentioned that things got especially chaotic during festivals (#197). Another claimed that power goes the moment it starts raining (#160). The interviewee in one household was suspicious of the uninterrupted power supply in the recent weeks. She thought that it was part of the policy of appeasement that the govt. engages in the weeks leading up to the elections (#144). Interestingly, one household had a direct electricity connection and no meter was installed in their house and hence had free electricity throughout. (#235) . One house paid a constant amount of INR 300 to their adjacent building, inspite of just having a tubelight and fan which they hardly used. The electricity connection to this hut seemed to be tapped from their neighbouring house. (#119)

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Ashraya Solid Waste Management in the Periurban
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