GOBAR-DHAN Initiative – Generating Wealth From Waste

Gobar-dhan initiative - Generating 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 initiative has two objectives from cattle and other waste are :-

  • To make villages clean
  • Generate wealth and energy

The Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin will pilot this initiative.

Facts on Cattle dung :-

  • According to 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. 
  • According to a 2014 ILO study, the productive use of cow 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.

Challenges :- 

  • Adding value to the utilisation of gobar and incentivising farmers to think of their cattle waste as a source of income
  • Also keep their communities swachh during the process.
  • One of the other challenges is for operating biogas plants & bio-CNG plants is the aggregation of cattle waste and maintaining a regular supply to plant operators.

Much can be learned from rural communities who have aggregated cattle dung to operate biogas plants & supply cooking gas at a cost lower than the conventional LPG gas cylinder.

For example :- The Lambra Kangri Multipurpose Cooperative Service Society in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, does this by aggregating cattle dung and other organic waste to run the biogas plant and providing metered cooking gas to members. 

Likewise, the Gram Vikas Trust started the Gobar Bank initiative in Surat, Gujarat, where members bring fresh cow dung to the community biogas plant. The dung is weighed and accounted for in their passbooks. 
In return, they get cheap cooking gas as well as bio-slurry, the residue from the biogas plant, which is used for vermicomposting and organic farming.

Significance of GOBAR-Dhan initiative is :-

  • Cattle dung, kitchen waste and agricultural waste can be tapped to create biogas-based energy.
  • Convert cattle dung and other organic waste to compost, biogas and even larger scale bio-CNG units.
  • Collection and aggregation of cattle dung and solid waste across clusters of villages for sale to entrepreneurs to produce organic manure, biogas/bio-CNG.
  • With the largest cattle population in the world, rural India has the potential to leverage huge quantities of gobar into wealth and energy.

What is needed ?

  • The 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.
  • 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.
  • Investments from the private sector and local entrepreneurs is needed.

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