Thursday, March 30, 2023

The significance of achieving sustainability for Gaushalas in relation to clean energy goals

Intense floods, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, and melting polar ice are just some of the unprecedented changes in the global energy scenario that are increasingly threatening nature, human lives, livelihoods, and the overall well-being of human life around the world. These changes are especially attributed to the war between Russia and Ukraine and the climate crisis. The United Nations is placing a strong emphasis on the role that human economic activities play in the decline of biodiversity. It is imperative that this problem be solved, given that the most important stakeholders are people, the environment, and the economy. For this reason, it is essential to exercise consideration and select energy production methods that are as environmentally friendly as possible.

The year 2021 marked the successful completion of India’s efforts to meet its clean energy goals, which included a commitment made at COP21 to derive 40% of its installed power capacity from sources other than fossil fuels. India is now producing 48.55 GW of electrical power from solar, 40.03 GW from solar, and around 10.32 GW from biomass-based power plants out of a total of 157 GW of non-fossil-based electrical power output (including those based on burning biomass to produce energy). However, there is a significant deficit in the utilisation of biogas-based power plants for CHP (combined heat and power) generation. This deficit is primarily attributable to a lack of feedstock and financing, but it is also attributable to a deficit in the utilisation of the related heat. Using the bovine forces that are already there in the country is the answer to the problem.

According to figures provided by the National Dairy Development Board, India had a total of 302.3 million animals in 2019. This number includes 192.5 million cattle and 109.9 million buffaloes. With a total population of 996 million cattle across the globe, the number climbed to about 305 million in 2021, making it the most it has ever been recorded. Milk, Gaudhan (the utilisation of cow dung and urine), and Gauseva are the three components that make up the traditional definition of dairy products in India. This definition always includes milk (Cattle service). There is evidence that sanctuaries for bovine animals, known as gaushalas, date back to the Vedic period. During this time, the cow was referred to as Aghnya in the Rigveda, which means “that which should never be slaughtered.” Gaushalas can be traced back to this time period. In the past, our social norms and legal system accorded a great deal of importance to an economic system that was predicated on cows. But, as time progressed, the gaushalas started to run into issues because cows and their offspring were primarily considered as a means to an end (a source of wealth).

At the moment, the government of India is undertaking a number of different initiatives. For instance, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) is working on a road plan to build the “Gaushala” (cow shelter) industry. This will enable the commercial use of cow urine and cow dung for a variety of purposes. The identical activities are being carried out in India and in other countries, the results of which are being emphasised in a variety of research.

In addition to the generation of power from the dung, the only way for gaushalas to become economically self-sufficient is if they lay an appropriate emphasis on natural farming practises. When addressing the prevalent assumption that Indian cattle become worthless assets once their milk output reaches a certain point, it is essential to adopt a holistic view. This belief is widely held. In point of fact, cattle have the potential to continue being a source of wealth for farmers, gaushalas, and the country as a whole. Some states, including Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, are attempting to provide appropriate care for their animals by providing incentives to farmers to engage in natural farming practises and breed cattle. Several states are currently in the process of building cow sanctuaries and shelters; the models that they are using could potentially be adopted across the all of India.

IIM-Ahmedabad has only just published a working paper on cattle-based economies. In this research, the authors properly analysed the ecosystem, which has the potential to tackle the problems of cooking fuel and soil degradation through the use of the biogas fertiliser plant. When combined with the use of biofertilizer in organic agriculture, the energy that is produced in the form of biogas can be utilised as a source of cooking gas. They have talked about socio-technical-financial systems that are capable of resolving many of the problems that are now occurring in the country.

The theoretical potential that emerges from the data that is now available on cattle is equivalent to over 17 MMT of LNG and 200 MMT of organic fertiliser produced annually. It is essential for the Central Ministry to take into consideration the specific incentive for Gaushalas so that they can become the hub for energy and organic manure production. That would result in a situation in which people, the environment, and the economy would all come out ahead.

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