The biogas plant will be set up here in Gauri Kund
Dehradun: Around 7,000 mules are deployed each year during the Char Dham yatra to ferry pilgrims on the 16km trek to Kedarnath from Gaurikund. The authorities are now planning to put the massive waste generated by these animals to good use as clean energy, by setting up biogas plants that will convert dung to electricity to power villages in the region.
In the first phase, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 35 lakh for the first such plant in Gaurikund. Located at 6,000 feet, the plant will be able to process 1,250 kg of dung per day to produce 50kW of electricity, enough to power 25 houses and provide them with cooking gas, said officials. The electricity from the plant will also power lamp posts enroute the Himalayan shrine for better visibility.
At present, the waste generated by animals is littered across the trek route until rains carry it into the river Mandakini that flows through the area. The green initiative is also aimed at keeping Mandakini clean.
“With the biogas plant, we can achieve the twin objective of effective mitigation of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of river Ganga and its tributaries like Mandakini,” Rohit Jayral, monitoring and evaluation officer, Namami Gange (Uttarakhand), told TOI, adding that more such plants are in the pipeline.
A private agency will build the plant and operate it with the help of local residents who will be hired to collect waste and deposit it in the plant. Currently, officials of the Namami Gange are in Kedarnath to generate awareness about the initiative among local residents.
Residents and environmentalists have welcomed the move. Director in charge of GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment (NIHE), Kireet Kumar, said, “The project should be rolled out across the ecologically sensitive Himalayan belt.” He added that such projects were required to protect our environment and also to generate income and livelihoods for those living in remote regions.
Soni Devi, pradhan of Gaurikund, added that she had previously highlighted the mule waste problem to the Namami Gange authorities. “We had approached them to find a way to get rid of the litter which was spoiling the aesthetic beauty of the route. We are very happy with this solution,” she said.
Rudraprayag district authorities said the plant would pave the way for sustainable growth. District magistrate Manuj Goyal said, “Kedarnath has a small hydel plant but soon the electricity demands of the area will be met via sustainable means like a biogas plant.”