Rahul Wadke

Mumbai, Nov. 15

THE Maharashtra Government is planning to make available 30,000 hectares for jatropha cultivation to the private sector. It is learnt that Reliance Industries has already approached the State Government to get the land allocated for jatropha cultivation.

The Maharashtra Government's plan is to cultivate jatropha on 60,000 hectares in the State.

According to the sources in the Maharashtra Department of Non-conventional Energy, the State Government is likely bring out a Government Regulation by the year-end.

Cultivation of jatropha would be undertaken on wastelands, which are owned by the State Government. Poor and underprivileged sections of the society, women and self help groups would be given 50 per cent of the land for cultivation and management while rest of the land would be given to the private sector, the sources said.

The State Government not only wants to earn revenue through cultivation of jatropha but is also aiming to create rural employment and prevent soil erosion. It wants to create a model of energy self-sufficiency for the rural areas.

Earlier, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd had joined hands with Maharashtra State Farming Corporation Ltd (MSFCL), a State Government undertaking, for a jatropha seed based bio-diesel venture.

A pilot project has already been initiated, under which, jatropha would be cultivated in 500 acres in Nashik and Aurangabad.

According to the latest report on jatropha cultivation and processing, prepared by the State Agriculture Commissioner, Maharashtra plans to give a minimum of 10 hectares and a maximum of 25 hectares to NGOs involved in jatropha cultivation.

Individuals would get two hectares of land for 30 years. They would have to cultivate 1,600 jatropha trees per hectare of land. Out of the total revenue generated, 20 per cent would have to be given to the State Government.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 16, 2005)
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