Mumbai – A two day skill-sharing seminar on emerging Biogas technologies was inaugurated by Dr. R.K Sinha, Director BARC at the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education (T.I.F.R). The seminar, jointly organized by Stree Mukti Sangathana (SMS) and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), brought together innovators, scientists, engineers, experts, government representatives, waste picker organizations, and NGOs from India and other parts of Asia to share ideas, learn, and disseminate information in the field of Biogas development and management.

Dr. Sinha expressed his concerns over the waste management scene in cities, like Deonar in Mumbai, where untreated waste ends up in large dumping grounds, posing serious public health and environmental risk.

The workshop aimed at strengthening the foothold of Biogas in the market as a truly green/clean option for waste management and helping form a network of various technology providers, innovators, and plant managers in the country. It was also the first step towards practical, hands-on implementation and training for waste picker organizations from 10 cities and other groups exploring biogas as a possible source of income. Experts in the field, including Dr.Sharad Kale, scientist at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC); Dr.H.N.Chanakya, Principal Research Scientist Indian Institute of Science, Banglore; Sulakshana Mahajan Architect and Urban Planner from MTSU; and Sanjay Bodkhe, Sr. Vice President of the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Industries chaired the sessions. Representatives of NGOs, industries, innovators, as well as engineers from the Municipal bodies of Mumbai, Pune, Dapoli, and Matheran, where Biogas plants have been implemented and are operating, also shared their experiences.

Jyoti Mhapsekar of Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS) – one of the pioneers in Biogas plant management in Mumbai – said that decentralization of waste management is the the need of a day. She stressed the importance of keeping in mind the integration of waste pickers in any waste management plan if we want to make the plans truly sustainable. “No one understands the value of wasted resources better than waste pickers,” she said. SMS runs 8 Biogas plants with the help of the women waste pickers cooperative across Mumbai.

The seminar was attended by participants from 11 states across India and from countries like the Netherlands, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, and the Philippines. Anne Laracas, Asia Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, said, “Biogas is the perfect solution as it can be started with minimum inputs and it creates livelihood opportunities for the local people. Other countries are looking towards India to learn from its experiences as a leader in the field.”

Dr. Sharad Kale also emphasized the need for people to change their perception about waste to see it as a resource that, if treated the right way, can be beneficial both to the environment and society. Dr. Kale also emphasized the importance of having a decentralized approach even for implementing Biogas projects. His team has identified 150 locations across Mumbai for small scale plants.

For more information contact Jyoti Mhapsekar: smsmum@gmail.com.

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