Middle class and lower middle class families in Bengal, who are overly dependent on LPG for their cooking, can breathe a sigh of relief as a new cheaper alternative may be available some time from now. Phoenix India Research & Development Group has set up a plant at Gunduba village under Birbhum’s Dubrajpur police station and will be supplying biogas cylinders to distributors in the state. So, residents will be able to get their cooking gas for just Rs 300.
Incidentally, this is the first time that a biogas plant has been set up in eastern India to provide cooking gas to residents at a very cheap rate. The plant, which is about 260km from Kolkata, was inaugurated on Friday afternoon by Swapan Banerjee, eminent sports administrator and brother of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
“We are one of the prime companies working in the field of renewable energy. Our specialty is to produce biogas at the lowest price to middle class households in addition to creating employment. One biogas cylinder is equivalent to 14.2 kg of LPG,” said Jyoti Prakash Das, the chairman of Phoenix India Research & Development Group.
He added, “We have plans to set up 19 such plants in the 19 districts of the state by 2020.” The company set up its first biogas plant at Gujarat in 2008.
The Gunduba plant will produce methane using cow dung and other degradable substances.
Sources said the cow dung and other bio-degradable substances are dumped in a big tank with equal amount of water and kept for three days. When it starts to take a thick liquid form, it will be kept in 10 big tanks — 15 feet each — from where the gasses are produced. These gases will be scanned through machines and only methane will be stocked in six huge balloons. Then, the methane will be filled in cylinders for domestic use.
Methane (CH4) is a colourless, odourless, non-toxic and flammable gas and is the most simple of all hydrocarbons. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is produced through the breakdown of plant materials in landfills, swamps and marshes.
“For 15 cubic metre gas, consumers will have to pay Rs 300 per cylinder. This gas is also fuel efficient,” Das said.
With the help of local villagers from nearby villages, Phoenix India Research & Development Group has created a cow dung bank. “We have decided to pay Rs 2 for 1kg of cow dung,” a senior official of the group said.
This plant will produce 3,000 cylinders of biogas per day, which will be distributed in several parts of the state. As the cylinders are made with FRB material, they are light in weight than the conventional LPG cylinder. According to the company, at present they have distributors at Nadia, Hooghly, North and South 24-Parganas, East and West Midnapore, Murshidabad and Birbhum districts. Later, they will scout for distributors in other districts.