Till a few years ago, residents of several villages in Moga district were facing the problem of power cuts, but now some progressive farmers of Channuwala, Badhni Kalan, Kapoore and Daya Kalan villages have come forward for installing biogas plants thereby generating electricity for village water works.
In a bid to popularise non-conventional energy resources, the Punjab government has announced subsidy bonanza under different schemes of the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA).
Moga deputy commissioner Arshdeep Singh Thind said the government was providing subsidy of R8,000 on a small biogas plant and 700 such plants had been set up in the district. "We started this as a pilot project at Channuwala and now it has become a role model. Besides, two big biogas plants having capacity of 150-200 cubic metres were also being installed at Channuwala and Badhni Kalan villages. These plants would also generate 25 KV of electricity. Proposal for two other similar biogas plants at Kapoore and Daiya villages of the district had also been cleared," said Thind.
On the other hand, as residents of Channuwala village started installing biogas plants, the major problem was shortage of cowdung, which was necessary to run the project. A progressive farmer, Jatinder Singh Bittu of this village stepped forward and bought 150 cows. The cowdung is now helping generate uninterrupted electricity at a biogas plant at Channuwala.
According to the district administration, the population of Channuwala is about 4,000, while more than 1,000 poor people live in the outer area of the village. Underprivileged people have benefited the most from the scheme. The generator, which runs on biogas, also helps operate water pumps thus bringing water to all houses in the village.
Bittu said his father started with just one cow around 38 years ago. The progressive farmer is not only a successful businessman now but also owns the biggest dairy farm in the village. "The problem was grave as poor families did not have even R100 to pay monthly power bill. Owing to unpaid bills, power connection would be cut off every few days. This generator can run for eight hours and now the village gets water supply for six hours a day. Earlier, I had to dig a pit and wait for weeks for the dung to turn into manure, but after cowdung is used in a biogas feeder, the manure is generated in a few hours," Bittu added.
Giving details on non-conventional energy resources, district manager of PEDA, Anupam Nanda said the government was providing subsidy on solar water-heating systems, solar streetlights, solar home lights and solar cookers to facilitate the public. "As many as 20,000 solar water-heating systems, 100 solar streetlights, 50 solar lanterns and 50 solar cookers besides 30 solar pumps had so far been supplied and installed by PEDA in Moga district," he added.
Nanda added that the state government would provide 70% subsidy on solar water pumps to all beneficiaries in the horticulture sector and the scheme would be launched in the next two months.