Himachal Pradesh Bioenergy Mission: Initial consultation with the Chief Minister

The Himachal Pradesh Chief minister, Mr. Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, in his meeting with the ISB team on March 3, 2023, said, “The Himachal Government is all set to partner with the Indian School of Business (ISB) to build a sustainable bioenergy sector based on the forest resources of the state.” “The government will make direct investments in the emerging bioenergy sector on the basis of policy inputs and research support from ISB.” 

In this meeting with the Himachal Pradesh CM, the ISB team discussed the Himanchal Pradesh Bioenergy Mission, including the potential of Briquettes made of dried Pine Needles, Ethanol, Compressed Biogas, and Biofertilizer production from Bamboo as lucrative alternatives to coal. The CM elaborated upon the government’s mandate for ethanol blending in petrol that must increase from 10 percent to 20 percent with an ambition to achieve the target of ‘Green Energy State’ by 2025. The team provided evidence of the state’s enormous potential to evolve as a pivotal hub of bioenergy production from forest-based resources. Himachal Pradesh can gain enormously from its forest lands by channelling investments towards sustainable resource management of existing conifer forests and restoration of degraded bamboo forest areas. The government is keen on doing so by coordinating activities across departments and agencies. These focused investments will unlock opportunities in the emerging bioenergy sector for the state’s welfare, socioeconomic development, and ecological development.  

The CM insisted on potentially setting up a pilot with local communities to make briquettes and sell them via a suitable business model designed by ISB. He was aware of the state of SHG institutions in the state and how the need for fair pricing is key to successfully rope them in the business model. It was established that forest-dwelling communities will be the fundamental stakeholders in this mission. Recognition of their legal community rights over forest resources is key to ensuring a sustainable supply of raw material for bioenergy production while also ensuring the protection of forests and their ecosystem services. Community ownership of forests and multisectoral job creation as steady income sources are incentives to build stewardship and diligence within communities. The communities will then be able to not only contribute to the state’s economy but also become leaders in sustainability. 

ISB will provide market linkages, a suitable business model, and apt technology. The state government’s support and participation will play a deciding role in making this mission a success. The government officials will meet the ISB team after April 15, 2023, for a detailed discussion on the mission and to prepare an action plan to follow. 

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