According to reports, the state forest department has launched an eco-tourism plan at the eco-tourism centres and the forest rest houses in the state. Among other things, the plan, which begins in Vidarbha, involves installation of bio-digester technology at these places. Bio-digesters, developed by the Delhi-based Defence Research Development Organisation ( DRDO), convert organic waste into nutrient-rich liquid fertiliser and biogas, which can be used a renewable source of electrical and heat energy. The estimated cost for the implementation of the entire eco-tourism plan is roughly Rs 40 crore.
The plan consists of developing amenities for tourists at these spots, such a road repairs and refurbishing rest houses. The forest department has therefore invited tenders from consultants in Vidarbha, who when selected, would design all the aspects of the eco-tourism plan and what it should entail. Its implementation is expected to begin after January 2012.
Explaining the significance of bio-digesters, Anil Mohan, additional chief conservator of forest, Nagpur, said, “We want all bio-degradable substances to go back to nature. The government of India has circulated this technology to various departments in all states in order to create a pollution-free environment. The technology converts human waste and other bio-degradable substances, such as food, to manure. In other words, the effluent that remains after the biogas production is a high quality organic fertiliser that can be safely used on food crops.”
Mohan added that the bio-digester technology will prevent waste matter from entering into water bodies such as rivers and streams, where such biodegradable substances usually go in the absence of such a technology. “Since the waste matter is converted into biogas, there is no chance of it entering water bodies and polluting them. The technology will be installed in areas such as the Tadoba National Park, Pench, Belghat, Navegaon, Nagzira and Tipeshwar Sanctuary, among others. Apart from installing bio-digesters in these areas, the plan involves developing eco-tourism here as well as in surrounding areas,” he said. He added that the initiative will later be extended to Western Maharashtra.
He said the bio-digester technology, which is already at the disposal of the forest department, will not only be used for constructing toilets, it will also be used for recycling plastic, while installation of water harvesting structures is also part of the eco-tourism plan.
The bio-digester technology has also been popularised by the ministry of tourism as part of having eco-friendly and best quality wayside amenities at tourist attractions. The bio-digester is therefore not only low-cost but also maintenance-free as it makes use of mixed bacteria to convert human waste in to odourless bio-gas, which is later released safely to the surroundings. The system has also been tested and adopted successfully by the Indian Railways, Indian Army, and the Delhi Government, among others.