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Birth, Recommendations and Progress

First Step: Formation of Biofuel Task Force

The country’s former President Hon. Dr.A. P. J. AbdulKalam, who had graced Karnataka State Golden Jubilee celebrations as the Chief Guest, addressed a joint session of the Legislature and gave a few suggestions for the development of the State. Biofuel development was also one of them.

Realizing the importance of biofuel, on 12th September 2008, the State Government formed a biofuel task force comprising a team of experts from different backgrounds chaired by Sri Y.B.Ramakrishna.

The biofuel task force has the following Official and non-official members.

Name of the members Post
Sri Y.B.Ramakrishna, Samagra Vikasa, Bengaluru. Chairman
Prof. Balakrishnegowda, Agricultural University, Bengaluru Member
Prof. Udupi Srinivas, IISc, Bengaluru Member
Sri J. T. Rajashekhar Member
Dr. G. N. N. Reddy, BAIF, Tiptur. Member
Prof. S. J. Patil, Agricultural University, Dharwad Member
Sri Attihalli Devaraj, Agricultural University, Bengaluru Member
Sri Krishan (Malavalli Power) Member
Officer Member
Chief Secretary to Government, Forest, Environment and Biology Department. Member
Secretary to Government, Agriculture Department Member
Chief secretary to Government, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department. Member
Commissioner, Member
Chief Secretary to Government, Fuel Department Member
Chief Secretary to Government, Transport Department Member
Chief Forest Officer, Bengaluru. Convener

This task force conducted a total of fifteen meetings and biofuel development across the State; decision on biofuel policy, plantation works, formation of a biofuel board, formation of village forest committees, new initiatives in biofuel, unrivalled trial of ethanol mixed diesel in the transportation department, a vigorous campaign to convince people from all classes of the society about the uses of 5% to 10% ethanol mixed petrol, implementation of new schemes by close association with government and semi-government departments, development of the Agriculture Department’s biofuel park in Madenuru (Hassan), land identification and use, seed collection and processing, development of high quality saplings and seed production were the key programmes of the task force. As a landmark of the efforts of the task force towards driving research and development programmes in association with different universities, technical educational institutions and educational institutions, the State implemented the biofuel policy on 12.09.2008 for the very first time in the country. The Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board is working under the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department since 06.12.2010 to implement the objectives of the biofuel policy and the recommendations of the task force.

Key recommendations of Karnataka Biofuel Task Force

Land identification and use
1. Emphasis has been laid on land use for non-agriculture purpose in the Central and State biofuel policy. According to different sources, it is known that there is 13.5 lakh hectare of barren land in the state. Priority should be given to identify how much of such land is available at the Gram Panchayat level for the biofuel “Baradu Bangara” programme. Respective District Administrations should take up this task immediately. For this, information available in the e-administration department should be obtained.

2. The State Forest Department has a lot of land in its possession. Not all of this consists of dense forest. After identifying such land with less than 0.3% forest area, the task of planting biofuel saplings should be taken up in those places.

3. A lot of marsh land where no crops are grown is in the possession of farmers and it is suitable to grow biofuel trees in this land. Efforts should be made for Village Panchayat-wise preparation of farmer’s details, survey number, land area and other information of owners of such land.

4. There are large areas of land available in government departments like animal husbandry, horticulture, small and large irrigation department, in institutions like the universities, industrial area, schools and colleges, research institutes, defence forces and such land should be identified and encouragement should be given to use such land.

5. Encouragement should be given to the private sector to grow biofuel crop on contract basis in non-agricultural land. Marsh land and barren land should be given to private holdings on contract basis and Revenue Act should be reviewed to encourage capital investment.

6. To protect the interests of Karnataka farmers in contracts made by private companies in the State with farmers to grow biofuel seeds, the approval of the State Biofuel Development Board should be made compulsory.
Development of best breeds of plants and seed production.

7. Identification of different biofuel mother trees and building of clonal orchards in different regions of the state is being taken up in the Forest Department and different agriculture universities and Biofuel Park at Hassan. (The sub-committee has already submitted the interim report in this regard.)

8. In the plantation areas of Agriculture universities, Forest, Horticulture and Watershed and other departments, biofuel saplings necessary for “Hasiru Honnu” and “Baradu Bangara” programmes should be grown in co-operation with and guidance from Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board.

9. The Agriculture Department should be directed to give farmers, the best quality seeds at subsidized rates and create awareness about growing short-term biofuel crops like castor, hemp at the bunds of the farm, along the fencing and as mixed crop in lands where food crops are grown.

As notified in the “Hasiru Honnu” booklet, a committee comprising of different officers, farmers, representatives of voluntary organizations, representatives of educational institutions, Village Forest Committee, etc. should be formed under the chairmanship of the Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Panchayat at the District level to formulate and implement “Hasiru Honnu”, “Baradu Bangara” schemes of the biofuel programmes, to build information and demonstration centres and to implement all State and Central Government programmes required for seed production.

Successful implementation of programmes like “Hasiru Honnu”, “Baradu Bangara” is possible only through active involvement of the community in these programmes. The active involvement of Village Forest Committee, Women’s Self-help Groups, Tank users’ associations, and voluntary organizations in these programmes should be ensured. Guidelines regarding this has been prepared in the “Hasiru Honnu” booklet.

Seed Storage and Processing

12. Purchase of biofuel seeds at the minimum price fixed by the government, storage of seeds and processing or supplying to other processing units to be done at biofuel information and demonstration centres along with farmers’ communication centres at cluster level. (The task force has submitted a separate detailed report.)

13. Apart from the biofuel information and demonstration centres functional at present, University of Agricultural Sciences Bengaluru, University of Agriculture Dharwad, Biofuel Park Hassan and M.G.I.R.E.D.Organization, Bengaluru centres, the task force has set up such centres at 4 more places. In the current year, such centres will be built in 8 more places with a minimum of one centre for every district. These centres are very crucial and it will be possible to undertake work in the field of biofuel from start to finish. (The sub-committee has submitted a separate interim report for the effective functioning of these centres.)

14. As seed production increases, it will become necessary to build bio-diesel production centres under private ownership or through the Board. A system has to be set up to monitor the availability of seeds produced in every district and to ensure minimum carbon footprint by sending the stored seeds to the processing unit.

15. The already set-up biofuel information and demonstration centres have a minimum facility to test the quality of bio-diesel produced. There is a necessity to set-up a laboratory that ensures the quality of biofuel at the State level in Bengaluru for the people of the state and from other states. The Vice-Chancellor of University of Agriculture, Bengaluru has agreed to provide land required for this purpose.

Skill Centre and Research Activity

16. The biofuel value-addition chain provides opportunity for the use of oilcake as manure, animal fodder, for production of biogas, for control of biological pests, for medicines, glycerin and other value-additions. Subsidy should be given to different educational institutions for benefit of the public and to research institutions for technology development. (A separate report has been submitted regarding the research opportunities.)

17. As an example, biofuel research and extension activities have already begun in Hassan’s biofuel park. The garden should be developed as a skill centre. Currently, the Biofuel Park is facinga lack of subsidy. The necessary budget required for the Biofuel Park should be provided and this should be given through the Biofuel Development Board. (The sub-committee has submitted its interim report.)

Subsidy

18. MGNREGA subsidy shall be mainly used for sapling growing activity. For the effective implementation of “Hasiru Honnu” and “Baradu Bangara” programmes the complications in the current subsidy usage should be eliminated and the Forest Department should be recognized as the Implementation Department. The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Departments should co-ordinate with the Forest Department and instruct to implement the programme.

19. Since the Central Government biofuel policy has been implemented, higher subsidy will be available from the Ministry of Renewable Energy. The State government should request subsidy from the Central government for the biofuel programme campaign as well as research and development activities.

20. In plains with less than 0.3 percent density of forest area, the Forest and Environment Department should classify the State’s CAMPA subsidy and provide it for biofuel sapling plantation work. This subsidy should be utilized to strengthen the Village Forest Committees which play a key role in the implementation of the “Baradu Bangara” programme.

21. It is possible to prevent the drought threat in the coming days by growing biofuel trees in the State’s 127 backward Taluks. Special development subsidy should be classified (sorted) and provided for growing biofuel trees in these Taluks.

22. Special subsidy must be provided for the following in the State budget.

  • To grow biofuel saplings.
  • Demonstration, training, workshop, exhibition, capacity strengthening programmes.
  • Research activity.
  • Grant and tax incentives and for other campaigning works.
  • Grant, incentive and taxes.

23. Provide concession from APMC cess levied on trading in non-edible oil seeds used in biofuel area.

24. Additional incentive from the State should be given to farmers at a minimum rate of Rs.2.00 for every kilogram of biofuel seeds received from Farmers Communication Centres.

25. Grant from the Agriculture department for oil extracting equipment as well as other value-addition equipments developed by University of Agriculture Bengaluru and Biofuel Park Hassan for the establishment of Cottage and Rural Industries should be considered.

26. Biofuel production units in Karnataka should be given a 5 year Income Tax concession and measures should be taken to follow Zero Taxation Policy for biofuel industry.

27. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, BMTC and owners of other large transport organizations and public sector enterprises must be encouraged to use biofuel mixed fuel in transport sector by giving them incentives and an attempt should be made to gain carbon credits.

Recommendations for Ethanol sector.

28. The delay in the issuance of permit to transport Ethanol used to mix with petrol must be reduced. In this regard, measures must be taken to form a single-window organization. In consultation with Biofuel Development Board, a single-window organization under the State Excise Department and Karnataka State Beverages Corporation (KSBCL) should be formed.

29. The usage of ethanol in diesel mixture shall be considered as a non-beverage and as an industrial usage material. Issuing of Ethanol Doping License to oil depots and distilleries for three years instead of the current period of one year.

30. The State Revenue Department currently issues a No Objection Certificate for two months only to transport ethanol outside the State to be used in fuel. This No Objection Certificate should be given for at least a minimum of the agreement period made with the oil companies.

Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board
After a two-year study following the formation of Karnataka State Biofuel Task Force, the Biofuel Policy for the State and country was formed and implemented on 01.03.2009. The task force submitted the above recommendations for the development of biofuel on 06.12.2010 to the State government. With this, the Biofuel Development Board was formed for implementation of effective and people-friendly programmes. The Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board, under the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Departmentis functional since 06.12.2010 to implement all recommendations of the task force in the State and is implementing several schemes.

Objectives of Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board

  • Design and implementation of biofuel development programmes.
  • Identification of non-agricultural land for growing biofuel plants suitable for various regions.
  • Encouraging cultivation of crops like sugarcane, beetroot, maize, etc. for production of bio-ethanol.
  • Encouraging use of biofuel and other by-products.
  • Increasing production and use of Ethanol.
  • Designing of programmes with community engagement for growing biofuel plants.
  • Arranging awareness programmes for farmers.
  • Building a network for seed collection and establishing biofuel production units for value-addition.
  • Involving Universities and Research Institutions in biofuel research area.