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Waste for Wealth: Year-End Review of the GOBARdhan Initiative

  • Category
    Governance
  • Published
    28th Jan, 2024

Context

The Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBARdhan) initiative, a significant multi-ministerial effort by the Government of India, has been making strides in converting biodegradable and organic waste into valuable resources.

Background

  • Since its launch in June 2023, GOBARdhan has aimed at transforming waste, including cattle dung and agricultural residues, into biogas, compressed biogas (CBG), and organic manure.
  • The initiative promotes a circular economy through a holistic "Whole of Government" approach.
  • The 2023 budget announcement of an investment of Rs. 10,000 Crore for the establishment of 500 "waste to wealth" plants.
  • As of the fiscal year 2023-24, 198 plants, including 12 CBG and 186 biogas plants, have been set up, and 556 more are under construction.

Key Developments:

  1. Expansion of CBG Trading: CBG has been included in the list of activities for trading carbon credits, enhancing revenue opportunities for CBG plant owners.
  2. Tax Exemption for CNG blended with CBG: Central excise duty exemption has been granted to CNG blended with CBG, preventing double taxation and promoting the use of eco-friendly fuels.
  3. Fertilizer Control Order Amendments: Amendments have been made to the Fertilizer Control Order, including exemptions for the sale of Fermented Organic Manure (FOM) and Liquid Fermented Organic Manure (LFOM), boosting organic manure utilization.
  4. Research Initiatives: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has undertaken research on the utilization of bioslurry in various cropping systems, promoting the benefits of FOM/LFOM on soil health and farm productivity.
  5. Market Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme: Implemented to incentivize the sale and marketing of FOM/LFOM, fostering organic farming.
  6. CBG-CGD Synchronization Scheme Extension: The CBG-CGD synchronization scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been extended for ten years, strengthening CBG production and consumption.
  7. Biofuel Blending Mandate: The National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) has approved the introduction of mandatory 5% CBG blending, further promoting CBG utilization.
  8. Unified Registration Portal: The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation launched the Unified Registration Portal for GOBARdhan on June 1, 2023, streamlining the registration process for CBG and biogas plants nationwide.

Prospects of GOBAR-Dhan:

- With India's substantial cattle population, estimated at 300 million, and a daily dung production of about 3 million tonnes, the economic potential of waste conversion is enormous.

- The GOBAR-Dhan initiative, aligned with the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin, aims to create wealth and energy from cattle and organic waste, potentially supporting 1.5 million jobs.

Successful Insights and Business Models:

- Rural communities, employing cooperative models, have demonstrated successful aggregation of cattle waste for biogas plants, providing cost-effective alternatives to conventional LPG gas cylinders.

- Initiatives like the GOBAR Bank in Surat showcase innovative approaches, where community biogas plants offer benefits such as cheap cooking gas and bio-slurry for organic farming.

Suggestions for Improvement

- Private sector investments and local entrepreneur involvement are crucial for generating wealth from waste in rural areas.

- Panchayats, village communities, and informal sanitation service providers can play pivotal roles in optimizing animal and organic waste resources.

- Strategic policy interventions are essential for scaling up the sector, leading to economic growth, increased incomes, and the realization of Swachh villages.

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