Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chhattisgarh going big on Jatropha

The Chhattisgarh government has before proved itself among the foremost proponents of the Jatropha revolution in India. The Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh is already the first head of an Indian state to start using bio-diesel to power his official car, a Tata Safari. That was back in May, when the aim was to run all official vehicles on bio-diesel in three months, and make the state self-reliant in bio-diesel in ten years. (I know the three months are up, but dont know the scores yet)

Doesnt matter. They are doing something better now. They are offering fantastic initiatives to corporates and individuals to cultivate Jatropha in the state. Land disputes? No problem. No capital? No problem. "Under the Government scheme, an individual can lease up to 200 hectares of land at a price of Rs 100 per hectare, per year for the first five years. For subsequent years, these rates could be increased." The government will provide a total of 200,000 hectares of land for this purpose.

Not sure what the incentives for corporates is but companies like Indian Oil Corporation, IFFCO, ONGC and Emami, are making a beeline to the state to get into jatropha farming. As per the government estimates, at Rs 5 per kg of seed, jatropha biodiesel will cost Rs 20 a litre - which is comparable to the price of diesel at $45 per barrel of petroleum. With appropriate duty concession, biodiesel will compete against a $35 barrel too.

Among other figures thrown up were:
"plantation of jatropha in farm bunds; wasteland and fallow land of the State will generate extra income of about Rs 2,000 crore for the villagers by 2010."
"A target of planting eight crore jatropha saplings in State nurseries has already been met this year. We plan to distribute 16 crore saplings next year"

P.S.: Thanks to Sanjay for pointing me to this news item.