An environment-friendly power station fuelled by rice husk and bamboo dust is being set up in Assam, one of the first such facilities in India to use 'green' power.
The plant set up at village Bangthai in Morigaon district, about 60 km from Assam's main city of Guwahati, is expected to generate power within 18 to 20 months.
"Locally available rice husks and abundant bamboo wastes from two paper mills in the state would be used for generating energy on a small scale," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS on Thursday.
The chief minister Wednesday laid the foundation stone of the power plant with an installed capacity of 10 megawatt.
Assam will be one of the first places in the world to make use of the energy potential of the fast-growing grass.
India, the world's largest producer of bamboo after China, grows about 80 million tonnes each year, more than half in the northeast. "An estimated 500 people are likely to get direct or indirect employment opportunities once work begins at the plant," Gogoi said.
Amrit Biogas, a company formed by some entrepreneurs in the neighbouring West Bengal state is setting up the power plant.
"The main beneficiaries would be farmers who could use power generated from this plant for irrigation facilities and for other micro industrial units," the chief minister said.
The gasification of rice husk to produce power - a process to extract energy from organic material - is in use in several countries like the US, China, Italy, Thailand and India. A few small-scale rice husk gasifiers are in use in northern India for generation of electricity and irrigation water pumping.
"This would not only be cost effective but also highly eco-friendly," Assam Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said.
Meanwhile, the Assam government has planned an ambitious roadmap named 'unleashing energy' with emphasis on setting up hydroelectric power plants. "By 2015 the power requirement in Assam would mount to 2,500 MW from about 750 MW at present," Bordoloi said.
Assam currently produces less than 40 percent of its requirement.
"We welcome private investors to set up power projects and the state government will offer single window clearance for such joint ventures," the power minister added.