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UP tribals light lives with Jatropha

Written by: Staff
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Lucknow, Mar 23 (UNI) Call it a basic necessity or an effort to rise above governnment assistance, tribals in Allahabad's Sankargarh area are using Jatropha bio-fuel to light up lamps.

In a rocky area located on the Allahabad-Rewa road, where electricity is a distant dream and government ration, including kerosene a difficult commodity, these tribals are extracting bio- fuel from Jatropha planted by them a few years ago.

The Jatropha plant, like cactus can grow in barren terrain without much water or effort. ''In fact, when planted in rocky areas or barren terrain, the plant gives out more oil than the one planted in greener areas,'' UP Jatropha Mission co-ordinator P C Ojha told UNI here.

The tribals went for Jatropha plantation after the state Planning Department provided information about its various uses. Now most of the extracted oil is used to light up 'dibri' or lamps at night.

Utthan, an NGO working for poverty alleviation among villagers too played a major role in educating the tribals on the issue.

''Intrestingly, the government gave no money for the project and eveything was managed by the villagers themselves...this goes to prove that people can make effrorts on their own to make their lives more comfortable to sustain in any situation,'' added Secretary (Planning) Sunil Kumar.

Jatropha is a genus of approximately 175 succulents, shrubs and trees, from the family Euphorbiaceae. Plants from the genus natively occur in Africa, North America, and the Caribbean.

Originating in the Caribbean, the Jatropha was spread as a valuable hedge plant to Africa and Asia by Portuguese traders.

Currently the tree is widely used as a poverty reduction measure in Tamil Nadu. The rail line between Mumbai and Delhi is inundated with Jatropha and the train itself runs on 15-20 per cent bio-diesel.

Useful in drought conditions, the plants provide watershed restoration, permaculture, oil for generators and water pumps, and compost and enclosures for gardening. This method is called the ''Jatropha System.'' The mature small trees bear male and female inflorescence, and do not grow very tall.

UNI NAB DH VP0447

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