Story of biogas revolution from a Sukkur hamlet 

Sukkur: Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The time-tested saying stands true to Chaudhry Akhtar, a land owner from a village named after him near Arore, who created a world of biogas for himself after he was denied a gas connection 12 years ago.

Chaudhry Akhtar has planted a large number of trees at his agricultural land, because he is an environment friendly person and loves greenery.

“Believe me when someone chops off a tree for fuel, I feel that, the person is cutting a living body into two,” he says in a chat with Truth Tracker.

According to him, mother nature protects us from excessive heat and cold, but we the human being have become our own enemy. He says biogas plant is the answer to rising energy crisis and global warming, therefore after the gas connection was denied to his village, he opted to go for the biogas plant.

Talking to the Truth Tracker, Chaudhry Akhtar said, “I tried to get a gas connection for my village 12 years ago when the Natural Gas was supplied to some villages nearby but it was denied to us due to political reasons.”

Seventy-five-year-old Akhtar’s village is located near Islamabad Takri in Arore union council, some 20 kilometres from Sukkur city.

“I was disappointed with the Sui Southern Gas Authority. I often visit Faisalabad, where biogas plants are quite common,” Chaudhry Akhtar went on.

“With the help of a mason, who is my friend, I copied the design and came back to start working on it.”

At that time, the plant cost him around Rs45,000, which must have been double by now. The main tank is spread over 12 square-feet and covered with a concrete round block, with half-an-inch diameter pipe fixed in the middle. There is a six-inch-diameter pipe that pours dung into the tank. The concrete block serves as a cover to avoid gas leakage.

“The only thing I have to do is pour around 10 kilogrammes of dung mixed with water in the tank, which is quite sufficient to produce gas for 24 hours,” he said, adding that the plant runs sugarcane crushing and wheat grinding machines. “By installing the biogas plant, I’m not only getting gas for domestic use but am also able to run a generator in case of power failure,” said Akhtar, visibly proud of his achievement.

Sometimes the gas pressure increases in the tank and, to keep it safe, an outlet has been built through which uses dung overflows into another concrete tank.

This used dung serves as a very good fertiliser for the land, he says. Chaudhry Akhtar is a proud owner of a large tract of agriculture land, around 35 buffaloes, five cows, dozens of goats and chickens.

He advises other land owners in the vicinity to also switch over to biogas plants, especially if they have buffaloes on their land. “Our forests are shrinking due to merciless cutting of trees used for burning wood,” he pointed out, adding that vanishing forests and rampant use of natural gas, electricity and petroleum products are the key factors behind climate change. “At least in the rural areas where people often have buffaloes and cows, biogas plants can easily be installed to save the forests,” he suggested.

Akhtar’s ideas are endorsed by the Environment Protection Agency, whose director, Waqar Hussain Phulpoto said animal waste is a good source of renewable energy, making biogas plants very eco-friendly. Plants are very beneficial for people living in rural areas as most of them have around 10 buffaloes or cows.

“Cow dung contains methane, which if released in the air, can add to pollution,” he said. “The same dung can be mixed with water and then added to the tank to produce biogas.”

Even after the dung has been used to produce gas, the remaining waste can serve as organic manure for the agriculture land, he pointed out. Emission of methane gas in the air is adding to global warming, therefore, its use in biogas plants minimises these hazards, he said. Phulpoto suggested setting up of larger bio-gas plants in cattle colonies, such as the ones in Karachi and Sukkur. These plants will not only be able to produce gas for domestic and commercial use but the remaining waste can be used in agricultural fields.

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