The Kolar District is located in the southern plains region of the Karnataka State, India. It lies between 770 21' to 780 35' east longitude and 120 46' to 130 58' north latitude and extends over an area of 8,225 Sq. km. The population was 22.17 lakhs in 1991 (as per census report). For administrative purposes the District has been divided into 11 taluks. There are 15 towns and 3,325 inhabited villages in the District.
Kolar belongs to the semi arid zone of Karnataka. In the semi arid zone, apart from the year to year fluctuations in the total seasonal rainfall, there are also large variations in the time of commencement of rainfall adequate for sowing as well as in the distribution of drought periods within the crop-growing season. Kolar district depends upon the distribution of rainfall during the southwest and northeast monsoon seasons. Out of about 280 thousand hectares of land under cultivation 35% is under well and tank irrigation. There are about 951 big tanks and 2934 small tanks in the district, which made agricultural prosperity possible in many areas.
The average population density of the district is 2.09 persons/hect (rural) and 2.69 persons/hect (rural+urban). The population density ranges from 1.44 (Bagepalli) to the maximum of 2.55 (Kolar). The population density for Chickaballapur taluk is 1.92.
Current trends in natural resource scarcity, limited energy supply are the major constraints in development of the region. Many times water becomes limiting factor to agricultural output, energy shortage limits agricultural as well as industrial output (in fact region is poorly developed in industrial sector and its growth is restricted mainly due to erratic and intermittent power supply). Environmental problems in the region are linked and related directly or indirectly to each other. For instance, energy scarcity leads to forest degradation, which causes soil erosion, which further causes siltation of tanks and lakes in lowland areas, which ultimately results in reduced storage capacity of the tanks. Forest degradation, on the other hand, causes reduction in carbon sinking capacity of the planet earth and disturbs ecological soundness. These local problems contributes to global problems like- ozone depletion, global warming, etc..
Kolar district is chosen to develop Integrated Regional Energy Plan considering the resource availability and consumption pattern. Energy became scarce resource in this region mainly because large-scale dependency on single type of energy source i.e. Firewood and very low thermal efficiency in burning fuel. Other factors such as exponential population growth, easy and free availability of fuel, made this resource to degrade to a threatening level. In this regard, National Project on Biogas Development of the MNES (Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources) Government of India has initiated biogas dissemination programme to solve energy crisis in the region. Household survey data reveal that many households in the district are operating biogas plants successfully and the success rate of this program is of the order of 70-80%.
Bioresource assessment based on the IRS-1C LISS-III satellite imagery of the two taluks – namely Kolar and Chickballapur has shown that the region is bioresource scarce13. The estimates shows that, bioresource (from forest, agriculture and plantations) potential for Kolar taluk is about 768.83 lakh kWh and that for Chickballapur taluk is about 1675.45 lakh kWh. Whereas the estimated demand for respective taluk was 6891.82 and 4105.63, which clearly shows that the region is scarce in bioresource. Biogas potential of the area( based on present livestock population) can meet an estimated 30-40% of the domestic energy need.
Energy source which satisfy basic human needs
If the world’s poor has to achieve decent standard of living, the basic human needs like food, shelter, health, education and employment are to be satisfied. This is a very important criterion of sustainability because it promises survival of human being on planet earth by satisfying his basic needs. Clusters of villages were chosen in two ecologically distinct regions to identify sustainability criteria and then to explore indicators to the identified criteria.
Domestic sector: Anthragange, a cluster of six villages is a hilly region in the outskirts of Kolar town is currently an environmentally degraded region and forms part of Anthragange state forest. All the six villages are economically poor, lacks any transportation facility and rely on agricultural economy. In some households sericulture is adopted as a secondary occupation. Anthragange state forest serves as the only source of fuel to 120 families residing there and to the surrounding localities leading to exploitation of forest resources to core extent As a result region lost its ecological balance. Unfortunately, still there is no improvement in energy sector in this region. There is an urgent need to look for alternatives: non-conventional energy technologies in order to improve the standard of living and ecological balance. Energy surveys conducted in these households show high level of dependence on fuelwood. Domestic firewood requirement is about 2.5 kg per person per day, which is much higher than the state average of 1.7 kg/person/day. This high level of consumption is mainly due to inefficient traditional cookstoves. Kerosene and electricity use is restricted due economic and availability constraints and need is 0.72 litre/person/month and 1.16 kWh/person/month respectively. Thus share of non-commercial energy is about 96% and commercial energy contribute only 4% of the total energy use in domestic activities.15
Andarhalli, a village in Chickballapur taluk, situated 6 km away from Chickballapur with 200 households was chosen for comparative analyses. Development of sericulture as a blooming activity made agriculture residue available as an alternative to firewood. The energy consumption pattern in the area reveals that the area is rich in bioresources like agriculture wastes (Mulberry, coconut, grape, etc) and animal dung. Though the forest in the area is degraded, the stress on the forest is much lesser than that on Anthragange forest. Of the total domestic energy needs, 55% need is met by firewood, 20% by agricultural residue, 20 % by biogas and remaining 5% by commercial energy sources like kerosene, electricity and LPG. Survey results show that education has played a pivotal role in the acceptance of energy efficient devices. Apart from this, decentralized planning machinery – Panchayat raj system is instrumental in successful dissemination of biogas systems.
Food: Per capita daily calorie intake is the indicator of food prosperity and food production rely on energy available for agriculture use. Therefore, if the food prosperity is to be achieved one requires enough grain production, which can be achieved only with proper energy supply.
Agriculture: Anthragange area depend on traditional type of energy, mainly animate energy, for agriculture purpose which provides energy only for subsistence, while in Andarhalli, there is rapid transition from animate to machine energy in agricultural activities like tilling, threshing and winnowing. This is a very important as far progress towards commercial energy is concerned. Though the use of commercial energy in agriculture has not made significant contribution to agriculture output, the “opportunity cost” involved in the form of time saved, which is being used for economically productive activities like silk rearing are of immense help to upliftment of people.
Shelter: Shelter is another important need to fulfilled for sustainable survival, which demands for enough per capita dwelling area. Though the matter is not of much serious concern in rural Kolar and Chickballapur, the rate at which urbanization is taking place still demands attention to this factor. Anthragange is more prone to land conversion because of its proximity to Kolar town and its natural beauty which has attracted many business projects like holiday resorts, hotel, etc.. Andarhalli is safe in this regard as there is no such natural factors which influence land conversion in big scale.
Health: Another important sustainability criteria for development of rural areas, is to provide minimum medical facilities to the people, but unfortunately both the region are devoid of this facility and people have to travel 6-8 km to reach to nearest medical center. The prevalence of respiratory tract infections and conjunctivitis are lower in households using improved cook stoves with chimney than in households using the traditional stoves.
Education: Education plays a crucial role in the development of area. Survey conducted in these households show that educated women are more receptive to adoption of energy efficient devices and contribute significantly in the prudent use of resources. This can be visualized from Andarhalli, where more than 50 % of the people have at least basic and more education, but in case of Anthragange literacy level just 30%. This is the reason for successful dissemination and management of non-conventional energy technologies like biogas in Andarhalli, while in Anthragange not even a single family has biogas plant or any other newer energy technology in use.
Employment: Employment has always been a matter of serious concern to a nation and role of employment in development is of immense consideration. Introduction of non-conventional energy technologies have contributed towards providing the employment in the region – dissemination, service units (to maintain these devices). Apart from these, Andarhalli has good employment opportunities in agriculture as well as business field mainly because of transport accessibility to town. Educated youth have shifted to sericulture, which have contributed to economic improvement. Contrary to this, Anthragange area lacks transportation network and level of literacy, which blocked chances of employment in business field. Employment in agriculture is seasonal and influenced mainly by economic status – lack of finance. Road network for Anthragange is under progress, which is expected to improve employment opportunities in the area.
Increased energy efficiency and energy conservation
Improvement in the efficiencies of enduse devices leads to conservation of energy resources (bio resources etc.). Therefore if energy is used efficiently it automatically leads to conservation, which acts as a catalyst for sustainable development. Shift from firewood based energy system to biogas based energy system brought out substantial amount of energy saving in Andarhalli. This attributes mainly to the increased efficiency in energy use. Firewood is highly inefficient in its use with an efficiency as low as 8-10%, whereas biogas has an efficiency of approx. 60%, which contributes to substantial amount of energy saving in the form of firewood. Estimated 0.7 Tones of firewood can be saved per head per year if use of biogas is practised in rural areas. On the other hand use of biogas only adds to the advantages in the energy sector in the form of non-polluting, easily available energy source and makes energy rich biomanure available for agricultural use. Switching off from conventional energy sources to the non-conventional energy sources is very important indicator of sustainability.
Growing awareness about newer energy technologies
Awareness is the key for spread of any technology or program. People in the region are aware of energy technologies like solar, biogas etc. What makes people aware of the newer energy technologies is a kind of education, which people acquires from source like news and print media. It has been seen that, because the education was limited to ‘awareness’ level there is no further progress in use of these energy technologies as in the case of Anthragange. The basic elements of environmental education such as awareness, knowledge, attitude and skills collectively can bring about the real change in any kind of environmental problem. A wave of such change in the form of ‘awareness’ is already seen. Once people are aware of any technology they try to know more about such technologies, where comes an element of ‘knowledge’. Knowledge brings change in attitude and thinking of people which many times demands skilled personals to promote newer technology. Attitude and skills are two very important components of this system, which plays key role in success of any new technology. Moreover success of any new technology depends on how it is introduced to the people. Andarhalli has shown the indicator of sustainability by acquiring knowledge, attitude and skills to use and promote biogas program. And solar energy technology is in awareness level in both the areas. People are seen to enthusiastic about use of solar technologies but the are handicapped by financial and accessibility constraints. In such case if Government take initiatives to promote such technologies with subsidised price and assured supply and service backup, solar energy can be the energy for future.
Reduced forest exploitation
Shift from firewood to other energy sources like biogas, brings about drastic change in forest degradation. Andarhalli study clearly shows the impact of biogas use over forest conservation. Though extraction of firewood from forest is not completely stopped, it is reduced to significant extent of 0.7 Tones per person per day. Unfortunately Anthraggange area shows no indicator towards such progress where forest is just exploited not just by the local population but nearby localities of Kolar town also depend on this forest for their cooking and water heating needs.
Energy from waste
Sericulture is booming business all over Kolar. Mulberry (Morus alba
) is the plant species which serve as food for silk warms, therefore much of the agricultural land in the area is under Mulberry plantation. During different activities of silk production different kind of waste is generated which is effectively used as a source of energy in the area. During silk rearing huge amount of waste in the form of small twig and branches is produced, which is effectively used for cooking and water heating needs in the area. Andarhalli has undergone drastic shift from firwood to agriculture waste, which wastes cater 20% of the domestic energy need. Even the waste cocoons are dumped into the biogas pit along with cattle dung and interestingly it is seen that the biogas production is better with waste cocoon in it. Anthragange area shows no indicator of such prosperity in energy use and depend solely on forest based firewood as an energy source.
Use of locally available bio-manure in agriculture sector and thereby reduced chemical use
Use of cattle dung as a input source for biogas production further improves fertiliser value of dung and makes it much more energetic The output slurry, which has more energy value when compare to fresh dung can met fertilizer demand for agricultural lands effectively. It has been proved that 2m3 /day biogas plant yield 109 kg. of urea, 275 kg of super-phosphate and 50 kg of muriate potash. This can meet fertilizer requirement for one acre of land for 2 crops in a year. As a result, use of chemical fertiliser is reduced substantially.
Integrated, decentralised energy system approach
Integrated energy planning – to execute the conceptual scheme to seek the optimal balance between energy efficiency action programs and supply action programs (through renewable sources of energy), having mix of different possible energy sources and by comparing their impacts on the economy and the environment. These impacts in turn influence trends in the development pattern and sustainability. Integrated energy system composed of a mix of energy sources, which can meet the energy demand and has no adverse effect on environmental and human health, has efficiency in burning fuels, can achieve progress in economic as well as socio-cultural development and share the burden on any one energy source. Such approach to energy planning demands for decentralized energy planning. Success story of decentralized energy in the form biogas program in Andarhalli is worth mentioning. Currently, Andarhalli has biogas as the only means to convert biomass into clean fuel, but there are many more options to harness biomass in cleaner way. Biogassification of bioresource can produce electricity, liquid fuels(like alcohol) which can be promoted in the area. Andarhalli follow an integrated approach in energy use, with emphasis on renewable sources. Energy sources like firewood, agriculture residue, biogas, electricity, LPG, diesel, petrol and animate energy, all are in use in different sectors like household, agriculture, commercial and industrial (Household Industry).
Global energy supply policies are generally elaborated at the national level. However, depending on the administrative and political structure of the country, the administrative regions can have considerable degree of autonomy in their energy choices. In our country, district is the most appropriate and quite pertinent to elaborate regional energy management plan, for energy efficiency, renewable energy promotion and local energy development. Panchyat raj system, which is a village level administrative body, has greatly influenced biogas promotion in Andarhalli and set a success example for decentralized energy promotion.
Reduction in pollution
Traditional energy sources like firewood, agricultural wastes and dungcakes emit many pollutants which affect ecological balance of the region. These pollutants have many adverse effects on human health, especially women. Women expose themselves to these pollutants every day, which may cause many health hazards. Due to use of biogas for cooking, women’s exposure to pollutants is reduced substantially. Outdoor pollution also reduced to the significant extent, though the scale is small, it is positive step towards sustainability. Use of traditional cookstoves with chimney has helped reduce indoor exposure to pollutants to a significant extent, but the amount of released is same as that from traditional cookstoves without any ventilation facility.
Clean and healthy lifestyle
Use of biogas is considered as clean and hygienic energy technologies, which keeps surrounding clean and helps for prosperous human health. Even use of fuel-efficient cookstoves reduces significant amount of exposure to pollutants. Unfortunately the local administration has not adopted the proper strategies for successful dissemination of this technology so far. Proper training and service backups are the essential factors in the success of technologies.
Renewable, non-conventional energy intervention
Renewable energy system ensures long term economic, social and environmental health of a region over generations. Renewable, non-conventional energy intervention with focus on long term health of the ecosystem, economic and social progress has to be given priority to achieve sustainable development. An energy plantation is proposed in wastelands in the form barren hill, which form part of Anthragange state forest. The energy plantation with appropriate indigenous local species can help improve ecological balance of the region and regain degraded forest wealth. Proposed energy plantation in degraded forest and barren hills which covers an area of 700 Acres can generate substantial employment which can improve economy of the people. Also it is estimated that a hectare of energy plantation provides a job for about seven persons. Energy technologies like biogassifier to generate electricity for lighting are suggested in Anthragange area. The energy plantations with biogasifier would provide required energy for the development of this region.
Even biogas intervention has long term viability in environmental, socio-economic and cultural advancement. Biogas which makes use of available dung (which is currently being used as biomanure) as a row source has real sustainable means. The output slurry, which has more energy value when compare to fresh dung can meet fertilizer demand for agricultural lands. It has been proved that 2m3 /day biogas plant yield 109 kg. of urea, 275 kg of super-phosphate and 50 kg of muriate potash. This can meet fertilizer requirement for one acre of land for 2 crops in a year and can save investment on chemical fertilizer, which is usually not affordable by poor farmers. Other benefits like firewood savings and thereby conserving forest, improved health and hygiene, cleaner surrounding are invaluable in protecting environment as a whole and maintaining ecological balance.
Involvement of NGO’s in developmental process can help bring changes in socio-economic aspect of the region substantially. A NGO is working on socio-ecomic upliftment of the Anthragange people. Educational institutions in the region can also contribute significantly in managing the environment through involvement of students and teachers in energy and environmental awareness program, afforestation programs, etc.. Indian Institute of Science has taken up the task to formulate and implement a project to introduce renewable, non-conventional energy in Anthragange area. Such a modular development plan of Anthragange area can act as a catalyst and improve awareness and developmental activities in other regions of the district.
People’s participation holds key for success of any environmental project. Active participation in initiating and controlling development is necessary. It is common observation in the study area that biogas dissemination in villages needs initiative from someone who is knowledgeable in that field, otherwise no one comes foreword to accept such a technology. As in case of Andarhalli, success in biogas promotion was not a instant process, it evolved over a period of time because of initiatives from an individual and now nearly 25% of the population have biogas plants working in the households. In case of Anthragange region no one has taken initiative to install biogas plant therefore its use is still not practiced. It is increasingly recognised that the success of sustainable development initiatives depends on widespread people’s participation and support. People’s participation within the sustainability discourse is instrumental. It is seen that only, if people themselves are prepared to ‘live sustainably’ the necessary economic and social changes be secured. Conscientisation about environmental problems and their causes, information about technologies and their attributes, and training in their use and management are essential for making informed choices. But for true participation, these external initiatives need to be adopted through independent reflective processes of the people concerned, so that they can make these initiatives their own.