• North India’s first Compressed biogas plant to go on steam in March

    As part of its efforts to mitigate the crisis-like situation arising out of crop residue burning in Punjab and Haryana, the Union government is setting up the first compressed biogas (CBG) plant in north India in Lehragaga of Sangrur and it is expected to be commissioned in March next year.

    The CBG plant, being set up under the ‘Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (Satat), will convert straw into CNG. Although the plant was initially scheduled to be commissioned in 2020-end, it got delayed following late arrival of machinery due to Covid.

    According to sources, the plant authorities have started collecting paddy straw to store it at the plant, as 300 tonne stubble will be used per day in the plant to produce 31 tonne CBG per day. The plant is being set up by Verbio India Pvt Ltd.

    Five more such plants are coming up in Punjab but those may not be commissioned before early 2022. These six plants will have a combined capacity to produce 70 tonne CBG per day by consuming 2.5 LMT paddy straw per annum. Similarly, 64 such plants are coming up in Haryana.

    “RBI has included CBG in its list of priority sector lending and the SBI has started loan schemes and oil companies have agreed on a buy-back rate of Rs 46/kg for five years… The CBG projects once commissioned will create a market for straw and provide farmers an incentive not to burn the resource,” said former executive director at Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and currently bio fuels adviser to the company.

    The first CBG plant in India was set up in September 2019 and many such plants are already operational in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

    Environmentalist and executive director of Centre for Science and Environment Sunita Narain said, “Degradation of environment through various means including burning of stubble is worrisome. To overcome it, there is a need to provide income to farmers for the residue and improve environmental sustainability. We need to provide machinery to farmers for in-situ management, provide value to biomass as farmers may not burn if they are paid for the straw.”

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