In times of depleting energy resources,the Railways have chosen the greener way with plans afoot to boost bio-diesel.
Jatropha Curcus,a plant from which bio-diesel is extracted,will be cultivated on the vacant land with the Railways. To initiate with,the Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Agra sections have been identified for the cultivation which would soon be extended to the Chandigarh section. The processing for the fuel will be done at the Tughlaqabad diesel shed.
The Railways has an approximately 63,000 kilometer track-stretch across the country. On both sides of the track,a nearly 15-meter wide tract of land is available in almost all the places. The Railways have been planting Jatropha Curcus on such patches of land in the last four years,with varying rates of success.
The purpose is to use the land resources for producing bio-diesel from the seeds yielded by the plant. The Jatropha plants will be used as fencing by the sides of the track,thereby,discouraging cattle from coming near the railway tracks.
The railways recently invited private parties to use the land for cultivating Jatropha and other similar plants.
The permission for plantation will be provided to a party for 15 years at the rate of 6 per cent per annum of land value,to be reviewed periodically in accordance with the Railway Boards policy. The parties will be required to undertake various activities related to Jatropha plantation like fencing,plantation,irrigation,pruning and harvesting.
Fuel expenditure on Indian Railways is substantial and the ever-increasing price of diesel is putting pressure on the financial resources. A small reduction in fuel consumption through use of alternate fuel,efficient engine and improved technology can result in substantial savings in fuel bills, said the Additional Director Public Relations,Railways,Anil Saxena.
The concerned party will supply bio-diesel to the Tughlaqabad diesel shed at less than the prevailing purchase price of petro-diesel applicable for Railways. The minimum quantity of bio-diesel to be supplied is five tonnes per kilometer per annum.
According to the railway officials,after the successful trials on the Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Agra section,the cultivation will be extended to the Chandigarh section.
The plant has its side effects too
The plant is a good option as compared to diesel or petrol. Not only is it cheaper,but it also reduces the pollution level drastically. Because the plant can be grown in as much quantity as required,it rules out the dependence on oil reserves. The plant has its side effects too as they may become invasive by spreading out on the vacant land.
Professor R K Kohli,Head of Department,Botany,Panjab University Chandigarh