The Renewable Energy and Environment preservation project
Diminishing forests and an escalating, rural biomass-dependence necessitates a corresponding effort of rural India to supply itself with a steady and sustained source of energy. About nine-tenth of the rural households in India uses traditional biomass-wood and dung-as a household fuel annually. Approximately half a million premature deaths and nearly 500 million cases of illness are estimated to occur annually as a result of exposure to smoke emissions from biomass use by households in India, making indoor pollution the third leading health risk factor. To that end, Humana People to People India (HPPI) in alliance with people and partners commenced construction and promotion of Biogas Plants in Rajasthan as part of its Community Development Programs in 2010. In last 6 years, HPPI has facilitated construction of 722 Biogas plants across states of Rajasthan and Haryana, directly impacting more than 4332 people.
Rajasthan is a drought prone state with a large number of heads of cattle (about 10.13% of the country’s livestock population) and setting up biogas plants ensures that all the dung generated by animals within the community is available for generation of biogas. Biogas plant also produces an organic fertilizer called slurry as a by-product. Slurry is a safe, nutrient-rich alternative to chemical fertilizers that can be applied to crops and trees. It maintains high moisture level in the soil and keeps a check on soil degradation and erosion while maintaining its nutrient cycle. The mechanics of bio gas plant make it a self sustaining model and because of its non-monopolistic nature it’s an exceptionally viable solution to increase agricultural productivity in agrarian rural communities. Thus combining Biogas plants with livelihood interventions will help promote clean and efficient energy, better health and improved productivity due to reduced indoor pollution, biodiversity enhancement, and increase in farm incomes all contributing towards better Quality of Life.
Establishment of family size biogas plants meet basic cooking and lighting needs of rural communities and reduce consumption of chemical fertilizer, demand of electric power and carbon footprint of the district. The biogas process also contributes to the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation as it utilizes the methane produced by animal dung for production of Biogas. It’s the first move towards turning waste into useful energy resources.
This project has a positive impact on rural women’s' lives as it 'reduces drudgery of women'. A steady supply of energy channelled to the home removes the daily task of fuel wood gathering, which is the single most daunting and time consuming task of a woman's day - taking more than three hours in some areas. Freeing energy and time for a woman in such circumstances assists other activities like taking better care of her family, other income generating activities or facilitating education of her girl child by reducing her domestic workload. Continuous and direct contact with smoke and soot also takes a huge toll on health of members of the households using traditional biomass based fuel for cooking. Biogas plants promise a particulate-free and clean source of energy which reduce the probability of chronic diseases incurred by indoor incineration of fuels, such as respiratory infections, ailments of the lungs and increased severity of eye diseases.
The Government’s financial incentives (Rs 9000 - 11000 per household plant) also prove to be catalysts in creating demand for more plants to be constructed. Biogas plant provides clean fuel for cooking and lighting purposes, organic manure to rural and semi urban households, mitigates drudgery of rural women and reduces deforestation. Biogas also leads to decreased dependency on conventional energy sources, reduced demand supply gap by promotion of renewable energy sources. Biogas is a leader in heralding a green energy revolution aimed at energy security, climate change mitigation, green jobs and sustainability through increased reliance on renewable energy.
National and state governments along with corporate and private philanthropists are welcomed to join hands in this scalable biogas plant model as a means to boost rural economy, while contributing to rural poverty reduction and sustainable development. The knock on benefits includes improved sustenance, increased food security, higher income generation and savings.