The government on Tuesday said that 198 green energy plants had been set up so far this fiscal, which includes 12 Compressed Biogas (CBG) plants and 186 biogas plants, while 556 plants -- 129 CBG and 427 biogas -- are under construction. This is a big push to the cow dung and other wastes generated in the agriculture and allied sectors to get higher value in the market and help raise farmers’ income.

During the Budget 2023-24, the finance minister announced the establishment of “500 new waste to wealth” plants with an investment of Rs 10,000 crore under the Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBARdhan) scheme.

This scheme, aimed at converting biodegradable/ organic waste, including cattle dung and, agricultural residues and other biomass, into valuable resources such as biogas, compressed biogas (CBG), and organic manure, was a niche initiative to promote a circular economy through a novel “Whole of Government” approach, an official statement said.

The Centre has taken several steps to promote the implementation of the GOBARdhan initiative in the last nine months.

Central excise duty exemption has been provided to CNG blended with CBG from February 2023 to prevent double taxation. A Fertiliser Control Order (FCO) amendment notification has been issued to promote bio fertiliser. Exemption granted for requirement of Authorization letter for sale of Fermented Organic Manure (FOM)/Liquid Fermented Organic Manure (LFOM) (organic manure produced from GOBARdhan plants) for a period of three years to boost uptake of these crop nutrients. The government has also raised the moisture content norms from 30-40 per cent to 30-70 per cent in FOM.

Besides, it has increased C/N ratio from “less than 20” to “up to 30” and pH content in LFOM/FOM from “6.5-8.0” to “6.5-8.4”, the statement said.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has already prepared a report on “Utilisation of Bioslurry in various cropping systems” as well as a package of practices for the application of FOM/ LFOM for various crops to popularise these and to improve soil health and farm productivity.

The Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme has been approved to incentivise the sale and marketing of FOM/LFOM (a by-product from GOBARDhan plants), promoting organic farming.

Extension of the CBG-CGD synchronisation scheme has been granted for ten years, up to 2024, to strengthen the production and consumption of CBG.

Also, the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) has approved the wise introduction of mandatory 5 per cent CBG blending to strengthen the production and consumption of CBG, the government said.