Journey Through Bangladesh
Cooking with Biogas
In a nation with scant resources every little bit counts. Amidst all the talk of depleting reserves of biogas, 101 families have found a solution.
Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu
MILI Khatun, a housewife of village Majpara in Atghoria upazila, Pabna is now cooking everyday using a gas stove although official gas connections do not exist in this village. She saves at least Tk. 50 in fuel charges everyday and also avoids health hazards. And it's not just her, but a total of 101 families of Majpara union who are able to cook using gas stoves. What led to this miracle? The simple use of biogas plants.
Majpara union is home to roughly a hundred biogas plants for the first time in the country in one area. Majpara union was declared as the 'First Biogas Union' in Bangladesh by the Minister for Fishery and Livestock, Abdul Latif Biswas on May 28. 'Infrastructure Development Company Ltd' (IDCOL), a government owned institution organized a ceremony at Majpara School premises for making the announcement and for inaugurating 'Biogas Week 2010'. IDCOL sources claimed that there are 12 thousand biogas plants set up across the country and they have a plan to set up 37.7 thousand more biogas plants within 2012.
The Secretary of 'Economic Relation Department' and also the Chairman of IDCOL, Md. Mosharaf Hossain Bhuiyan chaired the program in announcing the first biogas union of the country. Lawmaker of Pabna 4 constituency Samsur Rahman Sarif Dilu, Senior adviser of SND, Bangladesh Mr. Rajib Munankim, Chairman of National Steering Committee of National Home-biogas Project Major Gen (retd.) Amzad Khan Chowdhury, Executive Director of IDCOL Islam Sarif, Atghoria Upazila Parishad Chairman Abdul Gafur Miah spoke on the occasion.
The speakers claimed that just thirty percent of the people in Bangladesh are dependent on natural gas connections while the rest and the majority who live in villages do not get gas facilities. The village people often use firewood as the fuel that claims crores of plants worth about Tk. 12 thousand cores every year. Wooden stoves are causing alarming damage to our forests. The village women also suffer from health hazards, the speakers claimed. So the village people should set up more biogas plants to save the environment and their health. There is a huge possibility to establish biogas plants in every village across the country and change the existing norms of fuel usage in cooking.
The people who are using the plants say that the Biogas plants save fuel charge and removes health hazards from conventional firewood based cooking. Furthermore, the biogas plants produce natural fertilizer (Jaiba Shar) as a by-product which the villagers can use in their fishing projects.
“When I had cocked in wooden stoves then the woods (fuel) was needed for Tk. 50 everyday. The wooden stove produced smoke which was harmful to my helath. But now I can easily cook in a gas burner. A natural fertilizer is being produced from this plant which I can use for cultivating fish in a two bigha pond which brings in extra income to my family,” says Mili Khatun. She built the plant in 2008 with the help of a local NGO and had spent Tk. 30 thousand in costs. IDCOL gave her Tk. 9 thousand as a subsidy. Like her, hundreds of families have built such plants with government subsidy and NGO assistance.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009