Know about a smoke free village of India: The Dholapur village

Waste-to-energy, especially through anaerobic route has the capacity to serve as a cooking/thermal energy option for nearby locations, through the piped supply of the generated biogas. Presently, in India alone, more than 50% of its population still rely on traditional biomass fuels (wood, charcoal, and dung) as their principal source of energy for cooking and heating. Within this scenario, waste manure from livestock and other organic waste from households and farms, particularly from rural perspective could prove to be an important energy source.

A Visit to Dholapur

A visit to Dholapur village in Waghodia tehsil, Vadodara district of Gujarat made us aware about the present scenario, where villagers could save nearly 100 metric tonnes of fuelwood annually due to the installed five years old biogas plant. The village has been adopted by Apollo Tyres Pvt. Ltd, under its CSR initiative to demonstrate the potential of bio-energy.

Out of approx. 55 families residing in the village, more than ninety percent of households are facilitated with cattle dung based household biogas digesters plants of 1-2 m3/day capacity. The generated biogas is primarily used for cooking purpose, and the slurry in the farm. The active biogas plants depict a positive impact on the village from many perspectives including energy security, and soil fertility.

Interaction with the biogas plant users revealed that proper training was given to them to address the common problems of household biogas plants. e.g., the issue of draining the settled moisture at the lowest point of the biogas pipeline was being properly addressed, which otherwise has resulted in clogging of several such plants in other parts of India. It was well understood by the villagers that running a biogas plant by following the standard operating procedure is very important.

The whole biogas concept at Dholapur depicts the importance of biogas in addressing the social issues like women empowerment, who were not anymore going to the jungle for wood collection and could avoid the smoky atmosphere in the kitchen.

A Visit to Muni Seva Ashram

Nearby to Dholapur, we also visited Goraj Village, where Muni Seva Ashram (MSA) is located. MSA is a social enterprise encompassing hospital, schools, old age home, orphanage, and home for specially challenged women. The Ashram has its own Gaushalas too. At one of its Gaushala with more than 250 cows, the collected less than 1.5 tonnes per day dung is being used to run a community-based biogas plant.

This plant generates on an average 50 cubic metre per day of biogas. It meets the cooking needs of five families living in the same goshala and the kitchen of Bhavani Mandir (home for around 100 especially challenged girls), and old age home kitchen with 40 residents, and partly the need of the main kitchen of MSA.

This community plant is around twenty years old and is based on KVIC floating dome model. It has been running continuously since its installation in 1999. The Ashram uses the slurry as fertilizer in their own farms, which produces organic vegetables. As stated by a caretaker of the farm, the slurry from the plant has a very good impact on the productivity of the farms.

It was interesting to observe that in many parts of India, the cattle dung is directly applied in pastures and farmland. This results in the generation and release of methane openly into the atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As a matter of fact, Methane is 24 times more potent GHG than Carbon Dioxide. While at the same time, most rural areas depend heavily on firewood as their primary energy source. However, if the livestock manure management is made a little systematic, as fathomed from above case studies, a high proportion of the generated cattle dung can be anaerobically harnessed.

Conclusion
Surely, there aren’t any dearth of success stories related to the versatility of biogas as a sustainable renewable source, more so in the suburban and rural setting. With complete electrification of the remotest of villages identified for 2022 along with the wholehearted approach of government towards providing clean cooking fuel to all (Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojna, PMUY), biogas could turn out to be a potential game-changer in the present energy deficit scenario.

Vishal Kanchan is the Program Coordinator at Indian Biogas Association (IBA). He is a mechanical engineer, who is following his passion for working in the Renewable Energy field especially in Biogas. You can follow IBA on Twitter at @biogasindia

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