Punjab plans agri-waste use to produce power

Written by Charanjit Ahuja | Chandigarh | Updated: Feb 6 2009, 04:53am hrs
The Punjab government has chalked out an ambitious plan to generate power from agriculture waste by setting up co-generation power plants at all the state-owned cooperative sugar mills.

The concept, the brain child of Punjabs cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, aims to involve the private sector on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis at its nine sugar mills. The private sector companies, through cooperative societies in the state, will purchase agriculture waste including paddy straw to generate power through the biomass project. All these plants will be functional by the end of 2010.

Singh told FE, The farmers of Punjab would get a benefit of Rs 600 crore annually as, according to a recent study of Punjab Agriculture University, farmers burn paddy straw worth this amount every year. The Punjab Sugarfed has signed a MoU with private parties to set up co-generation plants and for the modernisation and upgrade of all the sugar mills on a BOOT basis.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh pointed out sugarcane cultivation in Punjab is now being done on 39,000 hectare compared to 60,000 hectare last year. On its part, the produce had come down from 594 lakh quintals last year to 206 lakh quintals this year. He said with the new concept, the farmers would be able to supplement their incomes.

The minister said about Rs 1,000 crore would be spent on setting up these plants and each plant would generate between 20 mw and 25 mw of electricity.

The MoU has been signed for sugar mills of Ajnala, Batala, Bhogpur, Budhewal, Fazilka, Gurdaspur, Morinda, Nakodar and Nawanshahr with four companies including Spray Engg Devices, Saraya Industries, Purab Infrastructure Projects and A2Z Infrastructure.

Spray Engineering will set up a cogeneration plant in Bhogpur to generate 18 mw and the sugar making capacity will be enhanced from 1,016 tonne crushing per day to 5,500 tonne crushing per day at a cost of Rs 80 crore. A2Z Infrastructure and Purab Infrastructure will establish three plants to generate 20 mw each at Nakodar, Budhewal and Fazilka and a 25-mw power plant at Morinda at a cost of Rs 450 crore.

The Saraya Group will set up plants of 12 mw each at Ajnala, Gurdaspur, Nawanshehar and Batala with an investment of over Rs 300 crore. He said all these plants would be commissioned by September 2010.

It is to be noted the state cooperative mills has the potential to generate 100-120 mw of power annually and the state electricity board had offered to purchase the same at Rs 2.86 per unit creating additional revenue of more than Rs 200 crore to compensate for the losses totalling Rs 77.95 crore incurred by the mills.