“Bio-CNG is the fuel of the future”
“If bio-CNG comes to the market, then the import of petroleum gas will come down in the country dramatically. People need to understand the importance of cow-dung. By making value addition to the cow-dung, one can produce better bio-gas. It will be a major boost for country’s economy,” said Dr. Bharat Patel, a renowned orthopedic surgeon, in an interview to Uday India. He also shared his vision on eradicating cancer from the society through bio-products. Excerpts:
Could you brief about your bio-gas and organic fertilizer project?
We are not only working on bio-gas project, it is also a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity, where we will try to improvise health of the people and soil of the country. Earlier in Punjab, 25 to 30 horse power (hp) tractors would plough the farm fields easily but today even 55 hp tractors could not plough the stiff soil of the farm fields. My basic aim is to protect people from deadly cancer by producing organic fertilizers, which is badly needed in the country at present time. We make organic fertilizer, pesticides and fungicide in order to counter chemical products. Our country imports DAP (Diammonium phosphate fertilizer) to the tune of Rs. 70 thousand crore and it is a burden on the country. Therefore, we mix phosphorus and bacteria culture to formulate organic fertilizer. Earlier after rain, mother earth used to spread a special fragrance from soil, but today it has lost its fragrance because of increasing ‘soil organic carbon’ quantity in the soil (soil organic carbon is the basis of soil fertility). Today, carbon quantity in the soil is less than 0.5 per cent whereas; it should be 3 per cent for better health of soil. Green environment is today’s utmost requirement. If bio-CNG comes to market, then the import of petroleum gas will condense in the country dramatically. People need to understand the importance of cow-dung. By making value addition to the cow-dung, one can produce better bio-gas. It will be a major boost for country’s economy.
Your priority is to eradicate cancer from the society, but you talk about cow manure-based fertilizer, organic fertilizer, biogas etc. How do you link both the subjects?
You must have eaten green vegetables like lady finger, etc. There you will find a layer of pesticide, fungicide, insecticide and growth hormone over them. And if one consumes them, definitely human body will suffer from cancer. Today, the number of cancer patients is increasing at a high speed, only because of chemical fertilizer. People tell me to make organic fertilizer from the city-based waste and garbage. But in this process, one will find three kinds heavy metals –- lead, mercury and arsenic — which are dangerous for human body. Japan made fertilizer from city garbage in the past but they were not able to purify it properly and now they are enduring the health consequences terribly. So, it is better to make organic fertilizer, pesticide, etc. from cow dung. It is a safe option to create a healthy India and also it will help in combating the cancer disease.
Earlier you said that you are doing it as a CSR activity. But why should a common man consider of doing it? Is it financial viable? Can an industrialist or an investor invest in such a project?
As a doctor I operate more than 1500 patients every year, however, I chose to go with it as a CSR project. As far as my knowledge on economics goes it says that it is commercially profitable but it will take at least three and half to four years. Here it is noteworthy that after starting this project one will get exemption in sale tax, service tax, income tax, etc. But the problem is that big industries never invest on long-term returns. Today, the cost of one kilo of CNG in India is around 44 to 45 rupees. But bio-CNG can be prepared at a cost between 25 and 27 rupees.
Where does one sell one’s bio-gas products? Already Amul company buys bio-gas, so who will be the other consumers?
Those vehicle holders, who line up in front of CNG fuel stations, will come and buy them. We are the first bio-CNG company to obtain the license for use of bio-gas in commercial vehicles. The government also encourages working on it. One needs to get permission from Petroleum and Explosive Security Organization (PESO) because CNG is an explosive product. If 10 villages come together and make a 500-kilo CNG plant, then it will be an easily doable project for the common man.
What is the budget for your project? What is the capacity of your plant?
Basically, I am a farmer’s son. So, I know about the miserable electricity supply in the country-side of India. When I used to visit various countries to speak on orthopedic issues, I saw that how they were generating electricity from cow-dung-based plants. We applied it in our company and fetched water from the borewell. Solar is also a good option of renewable energy. Later, we purified the gas to make bio-CNG, which can be supplied to all industries, furnaces and vehicles. Today, our bio-CNG goes to Amul’s chocolate plant and its caloric value is roughly about 9800 to 10200 per kilogram. The methane content in the bio-CNG is around 95 to 97 per cent, carbon dioxide is around 2 per cent and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is almost zero. Our plant’s capacity is 14000 cubic meter raw bio-gas, where we produce around 5800 to 6800 cubic meter purified gas every day. If one wants to make a smaller plant, which consumes around 5 tonnes of cow-dung or other bio-waste, it will cost roughly Rs 50 to 60 lakh. And big one like ours including cows cost around 30 crore.
Can bio-gas plants use rotten vegetables like bio-garbage instead of cow-dung?
From cow-dung one gets one cubic meter of bio-gas from 15 kilogram. Five kilo of sugar industry’s waste known as ‘press-mud’ can produce one kilo of cubic meter bio-gas, four kilogram of potatoes can produce one kilo of cubic meter bio-gas. Use whatever bio-waste available in the surrounding for the plant, but never use city-waste because it is hazardous.
Can a house apartment put up a small plant to generate bio-gas?
Kitchen waste is a good option but it needs segregation before use in the plant. Rice waste is also best to produce bio-CNG.
From where did you get the technologies and machineries for your plant? Are these indigenous or imported ones?
Now, it is available in Ahmedabad. Most of the machines are manufactured in India to help the rural masses. But for our project, we imported equipment from Germany. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative Make in India, state-of-the art machineries for bio-CNG plants are manufactured in India. However, they need improvement.
Does the Central government assist the poor people and farmers with subsidies to set up bio-gas plants?
I got a subsidy of Rs 2 crore 30 lakh for my plant from the government. And it was released by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Officials of Gujarat Government also visited my sites to study the plant.
You run a gaushala. Please tell something about it. Because most of the cowsheds run by donation from people, for instance three month back in Rajasthan, 3000 cows were killed due to negligible care.
If you run a gaushala professionally and add value on it, then it is absolutely viable. Give me a gaushala project anywhere in the country and I would make it economically viable. It is my promise. One can ask me, how? Ghee costs Rs 500 to 1000 per kilo. As a doctor I can say that from one litre of milk one can get 40 to 50 grams of ghee. One should not think much about A1 and A2 milk as of now, because it is not so easy to get Indian desi cow breed. In Brazil, Gir cows give 30-50 liters milk in a day. And the government is helping in bringing back such breed to India. It will take at least 10 years of research and development to produce good cow breeds, and then only can one get quantum milk. Recently, I gave a lecture on cow-dung and rural economy, where I said that one does not get a single penny for one kilo of cow dung, but if you make organic fertilizer from it then you will be on the profitable side. I make Humic and Amino acids in the plant from cow manure, whose costs are around 300 to 700 rupees per litre and we process 3000 litre of acids in our plant. So, there are three-corner profits from a cowshed — respect for mother cow remains forever, old-age non-milking cows will not be slaughtered and financial profit through selling of cow products.