A poineering innovation in the quest for renewable energy will soon lose a landmark first made in Mumbai. The site of one of the world’s first successful bio-gas plants — built in 1901 by British civil engineer Charles Carkeet James (1863-1942) — will be cleared in the coming weeks for a new medical students’ hostel to be built at Matunga’s historic Acworth Municipal Hospital for Leprosy.
C C James was a sanitary and drainage expert from Cornwall, fascinated by problems of waste disposal in tropical conditions, where organic matter decomposed rapidly. His techniques for extracting combustible gas from sewage using airless composting are used in cities across the world today. After coming to Bombay to design the Tansa Dam pipeline network to increase water supply to the Island City in 1889, James was deputed by Municipal Commissioner Harry Arbuthnot Acworth to work on the drainage of the new Homeless Leper Asylum in Matunga. Read more