15 lakh acre State land for bio-diesel

From our Bureau

Hyderabad, July 18: the state will run on bio-diesel if the government's plan fructifies.

The Congress government has set itself the target of growing Jatropha and Kanuga in 15 lakh acre in the next five years.The plants yield an oil which can be refined and used in place of diesel in vehicles: J&K will acquire an entirely new meaning in the State.

Companies like DaimlerChrysler have already demonstrated luxury Mercedes Benz cars fuelled by bio-diesel.

The government has asked collectors in eight water deficient districts to identify vacant land for taking up cultivation of J&K. A policy decision on leasing out government lands for corporate houses and individuals is expected soon.

Both species require low rainfall. Oil from the seeds is blended with diesel, bringing down the cost of fuel. The Planning Commission has asked oil companies to set up blended plants for the bio-fuel.

"We have to take up plantation in at least 30,000 acre in each district initially. The State will give subsidy for five acres and provide drip irrigation equipment at 90 percent subsidy," Agriculture Minister N Raghuveera Reddy said. Cultivation could be taken up even in land above five acres but subsidy would be extended only to five-acre plots.

The minister held a videoconference with collectors of Kadapa, Kurnool, Chittor, Anantapur, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy collectors from Secretariat on Sunday. He asked them to draw up a list of farmers, companies or individuals who are willing to take up J&K plantation. Kurnool collector Ajay Jain said the district administration had already identified 3,000 acre, The State government is belived to have asked the officials to work out different rates for lease.

The State is considering fixing a heigher rate, given the criticism the previous Naidu government faced for figting away hundreds of acres of land for bio-diesel plantations during ts las months in power.

The State government will enter into tripatriate agreements with growers and buyers. After fixng a specific rate for oil seeds, the government will stand guarantee for the selling price.

"The project will put waste land into use and provide employment opportunities for thousands of local youth," he said.

The government has decided to engage experts from Tamil Nadu to train enterpreneurs on cultivating J&K.

The officials were of the view that at least three crore saplings would be required.