NEW INDIAN EXPRESS
Bio-diesel being seen as best option.
encouraging cultivation of crops producing fuel.
May 6: Visualising an era of bio-fuel as an alternative
to conventional diesel to reduce dependence on the highly polluting
and prohibitively expensive fossil fuel, the State Government
is giving a push to cultivation of Pongamia and extraction of
fuel from its seeds.
Known as "kanuga" in local
parlance, the bio-fuel would be as powerful as the conventional
diesel and. less expensive too.
It would cost Rs 22 per litre while the
regular diesel is priced at Rs 24.44. Pollution is very negligible:
conventional diesel has 13 ppm while bio-diesel has only 5 ppm.
Promotion of Pongamia offers many advantages:
It will ensure green cover (it bears large leaves), requires
less irrigation, has a life of upto 60 years and provides employment
to tribals who collect the seed and more returns to farmers
who go in for this crop in arid lands.
The bio-fuel does not require any change
in design in automobiles and works at all temperatures except
in areas where the mercury does not dip below minus five degrees
According to officials of the forest
department, present availability of the seed is about 9;000
tonnes per annum.
However, only about 4,000 tonnes is collected
by tribals from trees that grow in the wilderness because there
is not much demand. It grows in the wilderness and is sold to
the Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC) which in turn sells
it to leather tanning and ayurvedic pharmaceutical industry.
The tribals get about Rs 5 per kg. Four
kilos of seed yields 1 kg of bio.fuel (1.3 litres) and three
kg of oil cake which could be used as a bio.fertiliser and bio.
pesticide because it has ricb NPK content and has a property
to repulse insects.
"Promotion of Pongamia would fetch
upto Rs.2.5 lakh per hectare to farmers, annually if they invest
Rs.l0,000 and wait for Seven years for the tree to reach their
full growth," says Special Secretary Forest Department
K D R Jayakumar.
The State Government apcordingly adopted
a two pronged strategy. encouraging cultivation of Pongamia
and ensuring facility for fuel extraction.
The forest department is raising three
crore Pongamia seedlings and wants to supply them to the Vana
Samrakshana Sam. !this (VSS) so that they could be planted as
soon as monsoon sets in this year.
Simultaneously, a plant for extraction
of bio-diesel is coming up at Choutuppal on city's outskirts.
Southern Biofe Bio Fuels Pvt Ltd.
to Biofe director N Satish Kumar, the Rs.15 crore plant would
come into operation by April next year.