When Smt. Richhawati, an active community leader and SHG member heard that the community biogas plant sanctioned for their Gram Panchayat (GP) in 2021-22 was being shelved owing to non-availability of community land and inadequate finance, she donated 2500 square feet of land that she owned for the project that would cater to the clean fuel needs of the community.
Having a large cattle population, the village community was looking forward to the community biogas plant under Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) that would benefit 20 households. The woman’s magnanimous gesture has set the wheels in motion for the construction of the Gobardhan plant that is now located in Salmatta GP in Sitarganj Block of Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand.
It was after a series of meetings with the Panchayat representative and community consensus that the project was first approved. But the unit could not start at the scheduled time for various reasons. A patch of common Panchayat land was first identified but it was far from the cluster of 20 households. However, their technical agency had advised that the land should be located close to the cluster of households so that biogas connections could be easily made to them.
A beneficiary of the cluster, Smt. Richhawati who owns an individual biogas plant is an active community social worker and a member of a Self-Help Group run by National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM). In fact, all households in the cluster who belong to the Scheduled Tribe category own land near the cluster.
Having learnt about the benefits of a biogas plant, Richhawati did not want such a valuable project to be dropped owing to non-availability of land. Soon as she decided to donate her land for the project, the proposal for land donation was sent to SWAJAL (SBM-G) district office, following which all formalities were carried out. A donation letter (Dan-Nama) for 2500 square feet of land was prepared; and the project for a 45 cum community biogas plant costing Rs. 18 lakhs that will benefit a cluster of 20 families was started in the financial year 2022-23. The construction work is currently underway with about 45 per cent completed and the entire project is set to be in operation by September 2022.
As decided during a community meeting, once completed, the project would be handed over to the community for operation and maintenance, while an agency has been identified to provide technical support. All 20 families will provide cattle dung for the project and receive biogas for their use commensurate to their contribution. Meanwhile, monthly user charges for use of the biogas and for operation and maintenance have been fixed. The slurry generated which is rich manure will be provided free of cost to all the families while the excess will be sold through the SHG.
According to Sri Himansu Joshi Project Manager-SWAJAL, determined women such as Richhavati will take care of the Gobardhan plant from which the community will derive long term benefits. Inspired by her, the district administration intends to start other community biogas projects in US Nagar District soon.
Inputs: Dr. Ramesh Badola (ES) and Sanjay Srivastav (CDS) SWAJAL (SBM-G) Uttarakhand