Bio-diesel being seen as best option.

Govt encouraging cultivation of crops producing fuel.


Hyderabad, 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 Celsius.

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.

According to Biofe director N Satish Kumar, the Rs.15 crore plant would come into operation by April next year.