With oil flowing past $145 a barrel, leading companies in the country have lined up plans to explore opportunities in jatropha cultivation and prospects of biofuel. The companies are flocking to Gujarat, which has earmarked 1,900,000 acres in the Narmada region for the crop cultivation.
The companies, including Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries and Tata Chemicals and the Essar group, are carrying out research and trials for producing oil from the cash crop in the state.
“The area of wasteland in Gujarat is higher than Maharasthtra and Gujarat government has earmarked 1,900,000 acres in the Narmada region for jatropa cultivation,” says an analyst who works on alternative fuels.
While construction major Shapoorji Pallonji has been allocated wasteland, Mumbai-based renewable energy company Royal Energy is in the process of acquiring close to 2,000 acres in Deesa region.
Hyderabad-based Nandan Biomatrix has joined hands with Ahmedabad-based V Worldwide Group to cultivate jatropha in 100,000 acres of wasteland in Gujarat, sources said.
Besides, UK-based D1-BP Bio Fuels has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IL&FS Ecosmart for bio-diesel production in the state. The British company is also looking for fields in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Maharasthra for the plant cultivation, company sources said.
While the yield is the highest from the fourth year onwards, about 2,500 litres of bio-diesel can be produced per acre every year.
Meanwhile, ONGC has planned jatropa plantation spread in over 500,000 acres in Eastern India, sources said.
The biofuel division of Tata Chemicals is also mulling a foray into overseas bio-fuels market, sources in the company said. The company has chalked out plans of extracting bio-fuel from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
“The company is targeting 500,000 acres in each state,” the sources said. In Gujarat, the company has started work in Jamnagar district, he added.
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Life Sciences is aiming to set up a bio-ethanol unit in Kutch for blending with petrol. Reliance has also started some trials at its Kakinada refinery in Andhra Pradesh and is exploring plantation in Kutch, sources said. However, an e-mailed query to the company remained unanswered.
Essar group is carrying out trials of jatropa in Jamnagar near its refinery project on a pilot basis, sources close to the development said. Besides, Shroff Foundation, an NGO is carrying out pilot projects in Kutch.
Companies like Tata Motors and Indian Oil Corporation are involved in jatropa plantation.
Ahmedabad-based Avni Seeds has lined up plans for planting jatropa in 5,000 hectares in a year. The company has also roped in ICICI for farm loan, sources said.
Arvind Mills has been exploring jatropa cultivation in Maharashtra. The project has, however, been put on hold as of now, said a company official.
Gujarat government has earmarked 1,900,000 acres in the Narmada region for jatropa cultivation. Rajasthan has over 324 lakh hectares of wasteland, however, there is a serious issue of water,” says an analyst who works on alternative fuels.
Courtesy :- Business Standard