Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Ground report: India’s largest paddy-to-biogas plant at Sangrur in Punjab is not operating at full capacity

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Officials at the MEB plant in Sangrur said they would need the government’s help to overcome farmers’ reluctance.

Sreya Chatterjee

Chandigarh,UPDATED: November 5, 2022 10:41 PM IST

Sangrur CBG factory.

An official hopes things will be more streamlined next year. (Photo: India today)

By Sreya Chatterjee: India’s largest Compressed Biogas (CBG) plant at Sangrur in Punjab is running at 41 percent capacity even as peak stubble burning season is underway. The plant was formally launched on October 18 by Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Hardeep Singh Puri and Chief Minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, and aims to reduce stubble burning in the border state.

Speaking about the reasons behind working with such a low capacity, Neelam Thakur, Straw Management & Quality Check, Verbio Bio Gas Plant said they need help from the government to overcome the reluctance of farmers.

“Farmers don’t want to wait for us to buy the paddy because of the rain in the first week of October. Hopefully things will be better streamlined next year,” Thakur said.

“We have 36 balers, among other things, and we source the paddy independently, apart from the help of two private aggregators. We have acquired 19,000 tons of paddy rice and aim for 35,000 tons. A 23-person land management team is constantly working with farmers to supply the paddy. As to this day, we have 1,500 farmers registered with us,” she said.

Atul Arora, process manager at Verbio, explains how the factory is ready to handle 300 tons of paddy rice per day.

“The paddy is first processed in a pre-treatment plant, then mixed into a slurry, before going through the fermentation tank. We have 8 fermentation tanks with a capacity of 10,000 cubic meters. After this process, we separate the solid from the liquid, we compress it. Later, we fill the boxes, which are ready to be sold in IOCL stores,” Arora said.

Parwinder, a Field Supervisor at Verbio, pointed out that there is a shortage of machines. He also said the government should promote shorter yield varietal seeds. “The farmers don’t want to wait for us to buy the stubble, they want it to be ready in a day. Converting the paddy into bale and transporting it takes time,” he said.

A farmer associated with Verbio said he has been working with the plant for a year now and has no problem. “This is my farmland, they clean up the whole paddy field and I don’t have to pay anything. It’s just that the farmers don’t want to wait. The government should spread awareness and also promote shorter varieties,” the farmers said.

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