Wealth from waste


During his budget speech on February 1, the finance minister announced the launch of “GOBAR-Dhan” (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources-Dhan). The Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin will pilot this initiative.

Two Objectives:

  • To make villages clean and generate wealth and
  • energy from cattle and other waste.

19th Livestock Census (2012):

  • The 19th Livestock Census (2012) estimates India’s cattle population at 300 million, putting the production of dung at about 3 million tonnes per day.
  • Some European countries and China use animal dung and other organic waste to generate energy.
  • But India has yet to tap the full economic potential of such waste.

Open defecation free:

  • While the core mission of Swachh Bharat is to make India open defecation free (ODF), it also aims to make the country clean, both its urban and rural areas.
  • Good progress has been made on the ODF front through massive behaviour change mobilisation, with rural sanitation coverage increasing from 39 per cent in October 2014 to over 78 per cent today, and about 3,20,000 villages becoming ODF.
  • Usage of toilets has also been found through third party surveys to be over 90 per cent.
  • A major thrust is now underway to promote general cleanliness and effective solid and liquid waste management in rural India.

Waste Management in Rural India:

  • With the largest cattle population in the world, rural India has the potential to leverage huge quantities of gobar into wealth and energy.
  • Cattle dung, kitchen waste and agricultural waste can be tapped to create biogas-based energy.

The Challenges:

  • The challenge is adding value to the utilisation of gobar and incentivising farmers to think of their cattle waste as a source of income and, in the process, also keep their communities swachh.
  • One of the challenges for operating biogas plants, and even related higher value chain operations like bio-CNG plants, is the aggregation of cattle waste and maintaining a regular supply to plant operators. 
  • Panchayats and village communities will have to play key roles to leverage the animal and organic waste that goes into water bodies, dumping sites and landfills.

Benefits of Such Initiative:

  • According to a 2014 ILO study, the productive use of dung could support 1.5 million jobs nationally.
  • For the farmer, there is a significant potential of greater income from the sale of cow dung. 

The Way Forward:

  • Generating wealth from waste in rural areas will require the involvement of all actors and sectors. Investments from the private sector and local entrepreneurs will be needed.
  • Informal sanitation service providers can be integrated into the system by training and licencing them.
  • With appropriate policies and practices, the sector can be scaled up into opportunities for growth, leading to increased incomes, long-term livelihoods and, of course, more Swachh villages.

Source:Indian Express

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