GoM takes up inter-ministry dispute on bio-fuels today

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Jul 24 | Updated: Jul 25 2007, 04:28am hrs
The group of ministers (GoM) on bio-fuel headed by agriculture minister, slated to meet on Wednesday, is facing a challenging task of resolving dispute between ministries of the rural development and the new and renewable energy over issue of promotion of bio-fuels in the country.

The new and renewable energy has suggested setting up of a national bio-fuel development board (NBDB) and formulation of a national bio-fuel policy. The NBDB would determine the minimum support prices (MSPs) for bio-fuel crops like jatropha, karanja seeds and oil-bearing materials.

On the other hand, the rural development ministry has demanded a gross budgetary support of Rs 1,340 crore for five years to setup to the national mission on bio-diesel and the launch of its first demonstration phase of jatropha cultivation in 400,000 hectares. The ministry also suggested a self-sustaining programme for jatropha cultivation in 11.2 million hectares for achieve a target of 20% blending of bio-fuel with fossil oil.

The rural development ministry has given in details the expenditure to be incurred for raising seedlings, plantation, R&D and administrative cost. It has said bio-fuel crops can be cultivated on 4.315 million hectares identified wastelands. It has also mooted that the proposed NMB identify and lay down the framework for supply of quality planting material, for planning and coordination and investment in R&D, training and capacity building, coordinating backward and forward linkages between farmers and the industry.

The new and renewable energy ministry has suggested that the government render financial support to oil processors for a period of five years. Industry should be encouraged to produce ethanol directly from sugarcane, in cane surplus areas. Imports of bio-fuels and ethanol should be done to the extent necessary.