The Punjab government led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd for setting up of bio-gas and bio-CNG plants in the state, as part of the state’s concerted efforts to find sustainable solutions to paddy straw burning, which has emerged as a major environmental concern.The MoU with IOC was signed by Punjab Bureau of Industrial Promotion (PBIP) and Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), in the presence of the Chief Minister. It will facilitate regulatory clearances and incentives by the state government and will be followed up with a separate technical cooperation MoU between the public sector undertaking and PEDA.The plants, to be based on a new concept and technology, will be set up at a total investment of Rs 5000 crores, and will generate employment for around 4000 people. The project will be initiated with 42 plants becoming operational in 2018, probably before the paddy season. It will be scaled up to 400 plants over the next 3-4 years, making it the one of the biggest such projects in the country.
It is estimated that 400 units will consume biomass of about 10 million tons per annum and will produce about 1400 million kg per annum CNG and 6000 million kg per annum manure. The IOC CGM Subodh Kumar underlined the viability of the project, which was expected to generate 18-20 per cent people profits.
By converting bio-mass to compressed bio-gas and bio-CNG, the plants will take help curb the menace of stubble burning and create additional income to farmers. The project will also create rural employment & entrepreneurial opportunities, besides providing a green organic source of compost for soil enrichment. The Chief Minister suggested setting up of societies of unemployed youth and encourage them to set up the proposed units with the support of the state government, and the IOC taking up the end product sales. The IOC CGM agreed to explore the suggestion.
The Government of Punjab will facilitate identification of land parcels in various locations of the state for setting up the plants, and also ensure incentives and benefits as applicable for such plants under the State Industrial and Business Development Policy-2017 and the State NRSE Policy-2012. Through PEDA, it will also facilitate Indian Oil to obtain permission for the marketing of compost/fermented manure and slurry, subject to the completion of all formalities by IOC.According to an official spokesperson, the parties will explore possibilities for further reduction on the taxes currently applicable on compressed bio-gas/ bio-CNG/ compost/ fermented manure, bio pesticide, CO2, slurry etc. They will also facilitate promotion of agriculture extension activities to farmers in the command area, including awareness programme for organic manure.While PEDA will be the coordinating agency for the government, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal suggested providing a nodal officer to IOC to ensure seamless coordination.
According to IOC officials, the technology requires no or negligible energy input and nutrient requirements. It requires a smaller footprint area compared to composting and the entire process takes places in a closed vessel system, thus causing no greenhouse emissions and no problem of odor and birds/rodents. The process is also cost-effective due to the current fuel/electricity prices.Prominent amongst others present in the meeting included Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Member Parliament and PPCC Chief Sunil Jakhar, Chairman Punjab Mandi Board Lal Singh, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary Cooperation DP Reddy, Additional Chief Secretary Agriculture Vishwajit Khanna, Financial Commissioner Revenue Vini Mahajan, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Principal Secretary Finance Anirudh Tiwari, CEO Invest Punjab and Secretary Industries Rakesh Verma, CEO PEDA NPS Randhawa, Senior General Manager Renewable Energy Indian Oil Corporation Subodh Kumar and Chief General Manager IOC Punjab, J&K, HP and Chandigarh office Sandeep Jain.