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  HYDERABAD
NGOs oppose bio-fuel crops  
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Friday, 07 December 2007
Poor Best
Hyderabad, December 07: A national consultation of people’s movements and NGOs have warned the governments across the country against aggressive promotion of bio-fuel crops as they could have a disastrous effect on the livelihood of people and food security.

At a press conference here on Thursday, P. V. Satheesh of Deccan Development Society that hosted the consultation, said the large-scale propagation of plants like jatropha could not be considered as solution to climate change crisis, as is being projected. It was leading to takeover of lands, core to food sovereignty of several families, after falsely considering them “waste”, he said.

Ecological role

In fact, rural and forest communities say that there was nothing called wastelands as most of these are grazing lands, pastures and degraded forests on which small and marginal farmers thrive. These so-called wastelands not only support multitude of livelihoods but have ecological role to play. “It is time we ask ourselves whether we grow crops for food or for cars,” he said

‘Hell oil’

Experiences narrated by the participants from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh vividly brought out the enormous damage that jatropha, now known in Rajasthan as “hell oil”, was causing to people and the environment, he said. “In spite of this knowledge, under intense pressure of the corporate lobby, the neo-liberal planners are pushing jatropha plantations”.

Participants pointed out that jatropha plantations were highly water- demanding and processing of biomass for extraction of oil was not energy efficient and hence not climate- friendly. The participants of the consultation included Ravi Rebbapragada of Samata, Sagari Ramdas of Anthra, Mohd. Osman of Central Research Insitutute for Dryland Agriculture and representatives from various organisations from Jharkhand, Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

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