Punjab News BBMB’s jatropha project fails to take off


Prime VIP
Talwara (Hoshiarpur), June 20

The cultivation of jatropha, a project of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) to utilise surplus land that was reclaimed from encroachers over the years, has failed to take off. The board had planted oilseed-bearing plants on 300 hectares in over 12 villages surrounding this township in 2007 to generate revenue from the sale of this biofuel-enriched crop.

This four-year project was taken up in collaboration with a Delhi-based institute, Energy and Resources Institute, (TERI) at a cost of Rs 1.69 crore. The then chairman of the board, UC Mishra, after inaugurating the project near the Pong Dam in February 2007, had claimed that 6 lakh plants would be planted in three phases and the first pickings would carried out after three years. However, even after three years, the board is in the dark about what to do with the existing plantation besides replicating the experiment on the rest of the earmarked land.

On the other hand, chief engineer, BBMB (Talwara), BN Goel claimed that the project was a success as almost 60 to 70 per cent of jatropha plantation had survived and the production of seeds was likely to start shortly.

He claimed that the department had planted a nursery by using seeds from its own jatropha nursery this year. He also claimed to have visited some areas to inspect the plantation recently.

Sources, however, said only 20 to 25 per cent of the saplings transplanted in the past four years had survived. The department “failed” to nurture plants that withered just after days of their transplantation.

Enquiries by a Tribune team revealed that jatropha saplings transplanted in parts of areas (covered under the project), were missing.

There were hardly any tree guards around the plants. Villagers alleged that BBMB employees hardly visited the site after transplanting saplings three years ago.