Jatropha plantations to solve energy woes
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Jatropha plantations to solve energy woes

Tuesday, 25 January 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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RAIPUR: The Chhattisgarh government has announced its intention to cultivate one million hectares of jatropha, a source of bio fuel, in 2005 in a bid to establish itself as an energy secure state.

The government plans to raise 350 jatropha nurseries next month and start the plantations in one million hectares of wasteland when the seedlings grow to a height of one metre.

The government had last week announced the setting up of a Bio-Diesel Board to make Chhattisgarh the leading bio-fuel producing state in the country.

The task of purchasing seedlings from Jodhpur in Rajasthan for the nurseries, spread over from two to 500 hectares, has already begun. Only seeds that contain more than 45 percent oil that could be used in lieu of diesel would be tended at the nurseries.

Chief Minister Raman Singh said the plantations would cover only one million of the state's eight million hectares of wasteland and would provide energy security to the country by saving at least 100 billion ($2.2 billion) on fuel imports every year.

"Besides import savings, jatropha cultivation would give the state 40 billion from the sale of seeds. Reducing hazardous pollution from diesel-pumped vehicles, developing greenery in wasteland areas and providing employment to local population would be the other major advantages," he said.

Agriculture Minister Nankiram Kanwar added that 2,500 jatropha seedlings were needed for one hectare.

"The bio-fuel tree, jatropha, has been traditionally cultivated in tribal areas of the state for decades. The local population has been using its oilseeds for lights but the government is going in for commercial use for the first time," he said.

And State Planning Commission deputy chairperson D.N. Tiwari said the jatropha trees would start producing fruits within two years and continue for the next 55-60 years.

"The jatropha plantations will prove to be a lifeline for the country in general and for Chhattisgarh in particular," he said.

Source: IANS
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