No food grain use for bio-fuel production: India PM

(IANS)--India may be talking to Brazil over bio-fuel production for fuel sustainability, but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is clear that his country, facing a food shortage, will not copy the South American nation to make ethanol from edible plants. According to Vilasrao Muttemwar, the minister for non-conventional energy accompanying President Pratibha Patil on her visit to Brazil, Mexico and Chile, Manmohan Singh has said that food grains should not be used to make bio-fuel in India.

The prime minister’s directive follows rising food prices and a shortage of food grains after decades of self-sufficiency.

“The prime minister is very particular that we should not use food grains for producing ethanol or any bio-fuel even if we are facing an energy crunch. We cannot afford that,” Muttemwar told IANS.

“The prime minister has also made it clear that we will grow (bio-fuel producing) plants (like Jatropa) in wastelands and we should ensure that there is no diversification from traditional cultivation,” the minister said.

Muttemwar added that India had around 35 million hectares of wasteland that can be used to cultivate such plants.

The government has proposed to constitute a bio-fuel board to formulate and implement a comprehensive plan for the production of alternative energy sources.