Raipur, Oct 27 (IANS) India's largest oil refining and marketing company, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), has submitted a proposal to the Chhattisgarh government for mass cultivation of jatropha, a hedge plant as a source of bio-fuel, and the setting up of a chain of production units in the state.
Sarthak Behuria, chairman of the state-owned IOC, - the country's largest commercial enterprise - submitted a detailed proposal to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh in New Delhi on Oct 26, an official press statement said Friday.
Behuria who led a high-level delegation of the IOC informed Singh that the company wanted to make a massive cultivation and production of jatropha in the state in a joint venture with the state government.
Details of the talks between the IOC chairman and the chief minister were not immediately available but officials said Singh lauded the IOC proposal and described it as a 'welcome move to help Chhattisgarh become the bio-fuel self-reliant state by 2012'.
A Chhattisgarh Bio-fuel Development Authority (CBDA) official said Singh will very soon form a working group comprising officials of the state's forest department, Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) and a few IOC officials to prepare a paper for the state government for mass cultivation and production of bio-fuel in the state.
'IOC is keen to use its technical expertise and vast marketing network to initially produce 100,000 tonnes of bio-diesel from the state and also raise saplings of jatropha and the herbal karanj plant in 100,000 hectares in association with the state government,' said a CBDA official.
In a policy decision, the Chhattisgarh government said recently it would not allow any individual players either of private or public sector to step in bio-fuel plantations. Interested parties have to form joint venture with the state government.
'We are very keen to work with the IOC in bio-fuel plantation and production sectors as it would create mass employment at local level in neglected and backward areas,' an official said.
The IOC proposal for bio-fuel production would create direct employment for 33,000 farmers and their families will earn at least Rs.2 billion through commercial use of bio-diesel products.
Chhattisgarh has already announced plans to plant 160 million saplings across all the 16 districts in the current fiscal year. The state would also take up an exhaustive jatropha plantation programme on a million hectare of fallow land by 2012.
Chief Minister Raman Singh, who uses jatropha fuel for his official vehicle since May 2005, has said his government wants to replace imported diesel with jatropha fuel in all the state-owned vehicles by 2007.
The Chhattisgarh government claims the bio-fuel rich plants have the potential to make India an energy secure country and help it to get over its annual requirement of 124 million metric tonnes of petroleum products, of which around 72 percent is met through imports at a cost of over Rs.1.5 trillion.
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