GOBAR-Dhan: Scheme announced in budget a welcome step, but challenges ahead

Biogas can be purified and upgraded up to 98 per cent of purity to make it suitable to be used as a green fuel for transportation or filling of cylinders

By Siddharth Ghanshyam Singh, Kaifee Jawed
Published: Wednesday 08 February 2023
A total of 583 plants are currently functional under the GOBARdhan scheme. Photo: iStock.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced 500 new ‘waste to wealth’ plants for promoting a circular economy with a total investment of Rs 10,000 crore under the GOBAR-Dhan scheme in her budget speech in the Parliament on February 1, 2023.

Of the 500 new plants announced, 200 will be compressed biogas plants (CBG), including 75 in cities and the remaining 300 will be community or cluster-based plants.

Also read: Budget kick: Keep these factors in mind while setting up a Bio-CNG plant

Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources (GOBAR)-Dhan was launched by the Government of India in April 2018 as a part of the biodegradable waste management component under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin.

The scheme intends to positively impact village cleanliness and generate wealth and energy from cattle and organic waste. The main focus areas of GOBAR-Dhan are to keep villages clean, increase the income of rural households and generate energy and organic manure from cattle waste. 

Biogas vs CBG

Biogas is a co-product of the anaerobic digestion (under the absence of oxygen) of biodegradable waste such as agricultural waste, animal waste like dung and segregated organic fraction of municipal solid waste.

Anaerobic digestion yields a variety of products in three different formats. The slurry obtained from the process is usually passed through a solid-liquid separation unit to extract the liquid by-product, known as liquid fertiliser and the solid fraction, known as fermented organic manure (FOM).

The co-product obtained in the liquid fraction is usually re-circulated and used in the digestion process, while the solid fraction can be used as a soil conditioner or fertiliser.

Also read: A primer on this coming of age tech that can deal with air pollution at 3 levels

The gaseous fraction obtained in the process is known as biogas. Biogas contains about 55-65 per cent methane, 35-44 per cent of carbon dioxide and traces of other gases such as hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and nitrogen.

In its raw form, biogas can be used as a clean cooking fuel like LPG for lighting, motive power and electricity generation.

Further, biogas can be purified and upgraded up to 98 per cent of purity to make it suitable to be used as a green fuel for transportation or filling of cylinders. The process relies on a high pressure of circa 250 bar and hence is called compressed biogas (CBG).

Some schemes

A total of 583 plants are currently functional under the GOBARdhan scheme, covering 151 districts in the country. Additionally, 175 plants are under construction.

The total installed capacity of biogas is 19,837 cubic metres (m3) and the installed capacity of commercial CBG plants is 311,086 kg.

Apart from the GOBARDhan scheme, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE), Waste to Energy Division has notified a five-year-long National Bioenergy Programme (2021-22 to 2025-26).

The programme outlay Rs 858 crore under its phase-I to set up waste-to-energy plants primarily from organic/biodegradable sources. The National Bioenergy programme comprises three sub-schemes with the following budget outlay:

Sub-schemes under National Bioenergy Programme Budget outlay of Phase I (Rs. in crores)
Waste to Energy Programme 600
Biomass Programme 158
Biogas Programme 100

The National Bioenergy Programme specifically mentions (paragraph five) that waste-to-energy plants based on thermal technologies like incineration, pyrolysis, etc., are not supported under the programme.

The Sustainable Alternatives Towards Affordable Transporation (SATAT) scheme by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) encourages entrepreneurs to set up CBG plants, produce and supply CBG to oil and gas marketing companies (OGC/OMC) for selling it as automotive and industrial fuels.

As of October 2022, 3,694 letters of intent have been issued, a total of 38 plants have been commissioned and 9,019 tonnes of CBG have been purchased by OGCs.

Current situation

There are a total of 583 biogas plants, of which 507 have been installed under the Ministry of Jal Shakti’s GOBARDhan scheme, 40 plants have been set up under the SATAT scheme of the MoPNG and the remaining 36 under the National Bioenergy plan of the MNRE.

States like Haryana and Gujarat have realised roughly 2 per cent of the total bio-CNG generation potential in the state, followed by Maharashtra (1.65 per cent) and Punjab (1.14 per cent).

There are a total of 6 interactive maps with different data sets. The reader may toggle between the maps using the drop down or the arrows to access all the data.


A total of 151 out of 766 districts across the country have an installed biogas plant. This shows that the Union government’s move to provide a push to Biogas technology is a rather welcome step. However, there are critical challenges that need to be addressed as we move ahead.

There are a total of 40 biogas plants under the SATAT scheme. However, the SATAT dashboard gives details of only 26 plants.

The offtake of CBG is being done by Indian Oil Corporation Limited in 18 of the 26 plants. Gas Authority India Limited buys gas from seven of the 26 facilities and the CBG from one plant is being purchased by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited.

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