26 October, 2020

'No Diversion Of Food Land For Fuel'

Energy expert and Planning Commission member, Kirit S. Parikh spoke to Outlook

'No Diversion Of Food Land For Fuel'

The debate over food versus fuel has made biofuel a dirty word...

Internationally, biofuel has become a dirty word. But in India, I don't think it will become a dirty word. There are reasons for this. We are short of land and cannot think of converting food land into fuel land. So, we are strictly restricting it to only degraded land, that too only land that does not have any further alternative economical valuable uses. We also have to realise that biodiesel plantations like jatropha take three to four years to start giving yields—if the yields are low, it does not make economic sense. But some people say the yields from jatropha plantations can be as much as 12 to 14 tonnes per hectare instead of just 2-4 tonnes per hectare. If that becomes possible, jatropha biodiesel can become an important fuel source, particularly when the crude oil prices are soaring.

How far will biofuels help to meet India's energy needs?

It depends on how much land we can spare. Suppose we have 70 million hectares available for jatropha...


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