Commercial production of jatropha begins in Uttarkhand

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Dehra Dun, Jun 5 (UNI) Uttarakhand has kickstarted commerical production of jatropha as a more viable and sustainable alternative bio-diesel in the absence of any leniency in rising fuel costs.

Though there is no national policy on using bio-fuels in transportation, Uttarakhand has been cultivating jatropha seeds in large wastelands since 2004 and is the second largest state after Chattisgarh to invest in this alternative source of bio-fuel.

Talking to UNI, Uttarakhand Bio-fuel Board representative Shyam Thapa said a Hardwar based plant would start extracting oil from the crops in the next two months. The board had set a target to cultivate jatropha crops in two lakh hectares of wasteland, he said.

Last year, three crore crops had been planted in 15,000 hectares of wasteland.

He said in the absence of a national policy on the use of jatropha as an alternative bio-diesel, it was difficult to convince oil companies to buy it even though it was much cheaper than diesel.

''Jatropha oil emits less pollution and can be used for cooking food and as a medicine to treat cancer and snake bites,'' he said.

The Uttarakhand Bio-fuel board comprises the state government, the Forest Development Corporation (FDC) and a private entrepreneur.

Seeds are cultivated on Van Panchayat land at the rate of Rs 3.50 per kg. The entrepreneur buys the seeds from the FDC and converts them into bio-diesel. A certain percentage of the bio-diesel is allocated to the state government while the rest can be sold.

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