Friday, June 21, 2013

Electric Vehicles in Bangladesh

A silent revolution has taking place in the transport sector in Bangladesh. The introduction of electric vehicles, the battery run three-wheelers in the past few years brought about a sort of transport revolution throughout the country. These battery run electric tricycles are now extensively used for short distance travelling in Bangladesh. Locally these are called easy bikes.

These vehicles can carry about five passengers including the driver, these look somewhat like the traditional auto rickshaw but larger in size. Earlier these were imported from China, now these are produced locally, these vehicle costs about one hundred and twenty thousand takas which is less than two thousand US dollars and run the whole day, charging of the batteries are done at night.

It is believed that thousands of such vehicles now ply throughout the country, mainly through the towns and in the suburban areas. Some estimate the figures at a million. However, there is no proper statistics available, as these vehicles are not registered with the governmental transport department . In Dhaka city this vehicle is not allowed in the main roads, but do ply in the small streets, lanes and by lanes, commuting passengers.

This was not a government initiative nor was this welcomed by the government. The enthusiastic business community of the transport sector promoted this transport system throughout the country. The government does not encourage such vehicles as charging batteries of these vehicles throughout the country had put extra pressure in the total power generation and the government is finding it difficult to coup up with the need of extra power generation, causing energy crisis.

However, the environmental impact has not been taken into consideration. Surely this mode of transport is environmental friendly, no fumes, no sound pollution, creating less carbon foot prints, which is required only for the power generation at the power stations.

This has brought about a sort of silent revolution in the transport sector, it  has become popular for the fare being comparatively cheaper than other mode of road commuting, The common peoples' necessity.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Visit to Food Recycle Land

Chang Chau Island Women’s Association Ltd, in Hong Kong is a local women’s association who are involved in various social activities in the island. One of their programs are Food Recycle Land, this is a social garbage disposal program. Cheung Chau Island is a remote island in Hong Kong.

Our General Secretary Mr. Kohei Yamada, APAY Green Team Member Mr. Lee Man Key, Green Ambassador  Ms.Cathy Wong and myself visited this island on 17th of June to have an first-hand experience of the environmental project.

The program of Food Recycle Land include food waste collection and process them to compost fertilizer, using a food digester. Hong Kong does  not have enough land for garbage dumping, moreover, this creates a lot of environmental concerns. Under such a situation this program addresses the issue of garbage dumping and creating a clean environment.

Every day the staff of this project collect food wastes from enlisted residents of the island. They have two collection points, one in the market place and the other in front of their office. The enlisted residents come to this collection point daily at a designated time and deposit their food garbage in a plastic box provided to them earlier. Then they are given a clean plastic box to bring in their garbage for the next day. The staff also stamps on a card of the resident. The purpose is that when the resident does have 18 stamps on their card, they are entitled to a small bag of compost fertilizer as an incentive.

The collection point, where the garbage is collected

These food wastes are then piled up in tricycles and carried to the site where they have the food digester. These food waste is then put in the digester for processing. It takes 16 hours to transform these into compost fertilizer, then it is stored in buckets for 21 days for being matured enough to be used as fertilizer. This machine can process about 100 kilograms of garbage at a time and produce about 25 kilograms of compost fertilizer each day. There are 4 part-time staff members for this project, who collects the garbage, process them and also clean about 150 boxes per day, ready for distribution for the next day.
 The digester machine

Garbage feed into the digester

Cleaning of garbage boxes

The processed compost 

The compost fertilizers are distributed free of cost to various organizations, who are involved in organic farming and also distributed to the participating residents of this project.

APAY Green Team Members with the staff members of FRL

This project is funded by the Hong Kong Government and is a very good example of environmental programs which some of green ambassadors could initiative in their own YMCAs. The cost of the digester is very high, this is appropriate in Hong Kong as there is scarcity of land, but in a case, where there is enough space, the garbage could be processed in natural method using the land, which is a cost effective. This digester costs about HK$300,000 and consumes about 69 Kilowatt of electricity a day. These costs could be reduced if the natural method could be adopted.

Duncan Chowdhury