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Plea to grant subsidy, cheaper loans to jatropha farmers

Special Correspondent

"Bio-fuel, the most promising option for managing oil crisis"

CHENNAI: "The Centre should give subsidy to farmers and make available cheap loans so that they grow non-edible oil-bearing plants like jatropha," T.K. Biswas, Additional Member of the Railway Board, said here on Friday.

Participating in a seminar organised by the Southern Railway chapter of the Institute of Rolling Stock Engineers, he said bio-fuel was the most promising if not the sole option to lead India out of the present oil crisis.

Technical know-how and knowledge should be imparted freely to the farmers who grew growing jatropha and similar plants and to enable them to maximise their yield per seed and per plant. Intensive research should be conducted to genetically modify the seeds to increase the productivity. of seed output per acre.

These measures had to be done with the same urgency and enthusiasm that made India self-sufficient in food many years ago.

Mr. Biswas said that India had the potential to produce nearly 60 million tonnes of bio-fuel annually.

The Southern Railway General Manager, Thomas Varghese, said the Indian Railways was the biggest consumer of high-speed diesel oil. The Chief Mechanical Engineer, Southern Railway, Jayanta Ghosh, said that as early as in 2002, the New Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi Express was run with five per cent blend of bio-diesel.

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