High on bio-fuel, states line up production plans

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Sept 3 | Updated: Sep 4 2007, 07:07am hrs
Taking cue from the Planning Commissions suggestion for largescale jatropha plantation for bio-fuel production, states are now setting their own targets.

The Planning Commission has suggested jatropha cultivation on 400,000 hectares for four years in the first phase and in 2.5 million hectares in the second phase for meeting the need for 10% doping of auto-fuel.

From September this year, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd and the Maharashtra State Farming Corporation will undertake jatropha plantation on 500 acres in Nasik and Aurangabad. The State Bank of India has signed an MoU with DI Mohan Bio Oils Ltd to give loans to contracted farmers to the tune of Rs 1.3 billion for jatropha plantation.

The Tamil Nadu government has entered into contracts with Mohan Breweries and Distilleries, Shiva Distilleries, Dharani Sugars and Chemicals and Riverway Agro Products for largescale jatropha plantation in the state. It has also abolished purchase tax on the crop.

The Orissa government last week formulated a policy to encourage plantation of jatropha and karanja on 20 lakh hectares of degraded land.

The state government has announced incentives for panchayats, cooperatives, self-help groups (SHGs) and farmers undertaking largescale cultivation of bio-fuel crops. The policy claims bio-fuel crop plantation would not only help production of 14,000 kilo litre of the fuel but also produce 42,000 tonne of organic matter for soil fertility and create 100 million manday jobs. However, the states policy has come under fire from civil society groups who say it would amount to diversion of land from food crops to fuel, thus endangering food security.