Crude oil consumption during post – independence days (1950-51) was 3.5 million metric tons, which at present has increased to 175 million metric tons due to the growing demand. India holds the 5th place in the field of crude oil consumption, after America, China, Russia and Japan. At present, it is inevitable that about 80 percent of our demand be met by importing from other countries. It is a matter of concern that the demand has risen from 65 percent in the year 1997-98 to more than 80 percent at present. In this field, India is self-reliant only up to 20 percent and it is not a good sign that we are dependent on others for the remaining 80 percent. So, it is imperative that we find an independent way to develop. Also, our scientists have indicated that the world’s crude oil deposit will not last for more than 30 years. It is estimated that India’s oil deposits will be available only for the next 10 years. Therefore, it is extremely important that we find alternative fuel resources. Biofuel, as an alternative to crude oil is the only silver lining that can solve India’s fuel problem.
About 80 percent of India’s demand is being met by the gulf countries like Iran, Iraq, Dubai, Qatar and other OPEC countries. Due to this, our country may encounter two kinds of risks. While one of them is the foreign exchange to be paid to fulfil the huge demand, the second is the serious threat on the industrial and transport sectors of the nation, if the OPEC countries refuse to export oil to our country. The industries may have to be shut down and export from these industries may have to be stalled. Unemployment will be on the rise. Won’t it lead to financial insolvency in days to come? Give it a thought. Our country and our farmers have the ability to face these difficult days. We should prepare ourselves for this by opening up to the cultivation of biofuel.
Processing of seeds, oil extraction and manufacturing of biodiesel and various kinds of value addition activities can be performed in rural areas, which will increase employment opportunities in those places and can also fetch additional income for the farmers. The energy requirement of the rural areas can be fulfilled by the fuels produced locally and extra fuel can be sold.
Biofuel saplings can be grown in the 13.5 lakh hectares of barren, infertile land of the state, near rivers, canals and alongside hedges and fences, farm bunds, in government and private lands. Biofuel saplings can be easily grown in the plains and areas that receive less rainfall. This also aids in afforestation and prevention of environmental pollution. We can obtain good organic manure as well as assure the fuel security of our country.