Friday, November 7, 2014

India's freshest biofuel move must not destroy good forests and rural livelihood: CCCNI Update 8th Nov 2014

Combat Climate Change Network, India (CCCNI) Occasional Update: 8th November 2014

India’s freshest move towards giant push for biofuels and its probable consequences

More impoverishment of tribal communities and destruction of good forests sure to happen if India targets to reach the 1.2 million tonne potential production of biofuels 

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Greetings from CCCNI!

Speaking at the Conference on Biofuel 2014 on 5th November, Nitin Gadkari, India’s Minister for Road Transport & Highways, has said that the Govt. of India would take all efforts to remove hurdles in the increased production and usage of biofuels in the country.

He has pointed out that India has a large potential for production of biofuels. Present estimates put the potential at 1.2 million tonnes. However, only 60,000 tonnes is being produced, out of which 80 per cent is exported.

In keeping with the broad objective of “Make in India” of the PM, Gadkari said, the production of non-edible oilseeds leading to biofuel production needs to be encouraged.  His Ministry is all set to promote alternative fuels and hybrid engines.

Ordinarily, the above statements would give a layman the perception that something good is going to happen in this country.  However, experience in the country and elsewhere says that good forests have been cleared and poor farmers and forest dwellers have lost lives and livelihood for promotion of bio-fuel production. 

This huge push may therefore be analysed in its real sense and we must urge upon the government to discuss this plan with the communities and others concerned.  Blind push without a proper understanding of the various socio-economic and ecological consequences must not be promoted. 

Gadkari has already hinted at heavy promotion of Jatropha in jungles and tribal areas and says this will help the farmers and tribal communities with higher income and employment.  He has also proposed to use wastelands extensively for cultivation of oilseeds.

Some issues that need are urgent attention:

In the name of promoting bio-fuels, tribal communities have been alienated from their lands by private companies.  We have seen mass scale impoverishment of rural and tribal communities due to bio-fuel production.

Most of the times common property land including degraded forest areas (that have potential to grow as good forests) and grazing lands have been termed ‘wastelands’ to promote Jatropha and other commercial plantations.

The so called ‘bio fuel’ therefore has a lot of socio-economic and ecological consequences that need to be considered by the new government while moving towards this giant push for bio-fuels.

Look forward to your suggestions and feedback on this note, and to work together on this issue.

For further information, please contact:

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, INDIA*
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)

Mobile: +91-9437050103/9937561700

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

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*Combat Climate Change Network (CCCNI) is a voluntary online network that organises discussions, advocacy and other needed interventions around climate change issues of India and the globe.  We request you to join the google group ‘combatclimatechange’ for regular updates from this network.  Please send an email with subject ‘subscribe combatclimatechange’ to if you want to subscribe to this list.  

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