Bio-gas in India: Landslides

Wood is the primary source of biomass for fuel in India. According to the World Wildlife Fund “the total industrial round wood consumption in India could exceed 70 million m3 per year by the end of the decade (350,000 large shipping containers), while domestic supply would fall short of this figure by an estimated 14 million m3.” In 1997, 152 million tons of wood fuel were consumed in rural India, along with another 49 million tons in urban areas. In July of 2014  Pune, India experienced a massive landslide which killed at least 30 people and left 200 trapped. The cause of this was reported to be deforestation.


Providing rural households with a sustainable alternative to woodfuel is an excellent way to curb deforestation. Biogas has the potential to produce an estimated 17,000 MW. As biogas is clean burning it would also help mitigate the terrible amount of pollution produced by wood burning stoves in rural communities.

Bio-gas not only has potential in rural communities, but also in urban settings. I have been researching a company called ARTI (Appropriate Rural Technology Institute), a sustainable development NGO in Maharashtra, India. They have dipped their toes in a couple different sustainable technologies, including Bio-gas. One of their aims is to apply Bio-gas digesters as a response and as a part of city life in India.

The contrast between the beauty of the city and vibrant culture against the piles of rubbish and dank smell in Jaipur is what inspired me to undertake this project. ARTI proposes that bio-gas is a solution to the crowded unwanted outputs of city life, as well as the routine agricultural and household waste of rural communities. ARTI asserts that in rural areas excess food waste, in particular, is fed to animals and while this is done to some amount in the city, there are not enough animals to handle the output and the result is steaming trash heaps.

Although ARTI specifically designed their digester for food, I have been thinking their design may be a prime example to inspire the design on which I will settle – it might even be the one I’m looking for. I will have to do some more research to see if there are design differences between food waste and manure systems.

An excerpt from the ARTI website:

“Build your own ARTI Biogas Plant!

ARTI biogas plants can be built by following the instructions given in the ARTI Biogas VCD available here. For customers who cannot afford the transportation and installation costs of these large volume systems, the VCD provides the cheap option of a DIY (do-it-yourself) kind of project.

The design is not very complex and can be fabricated using locally available materials. In general the following parts would need to be obtained locally:

  1. 1000 Ltr and 750 Ltr plastic tanks. If not available then cement and brick tanks can be constructed.
  2. PVC pipes of various diameters, commonly used in plumbing.
  3. Biogas cookstove (This would generally be available in countries where the biogas technology has been promoted by the governments).

PVC pipes of required diameters and biogas cookstoves can also be obtained as a ‘Biogas Kit’ from Samuchit Enviro-Tech Pvt. Ltd., Pune.Many people around the world have successfully built ARTI’s biogas plants by themselves. Also, we’ll be there to help if you face any problems. Once you build this plant successfully, you can help you friends and neighbors in trying this very practical and appropriate technology!”

Works Cited

ARTI. “ARTI Biogas Plant: A Compact Digester for Producing Biogas from Food Waste.” Appropriate Rural Technology Institute. ARTI, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <;.

BBC. “Indian Media: ‘Man-made’ Disaster.” BBC News. BBC, 31 July 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <;

Forestry Department. “Present Status of Woodfuel.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAO, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <;.

WWF. “Environmental Problems in India.” World Wide Fund For Nature. WWF, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015. <;.

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