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Satish Lele


Main aim of manufacture of Biodiesel is to dispose off used cooking oil, and not energy security or substitution of Diesel (Even if all available Edible / Non Edible oil is used for manufacture of Biodiesel, it will not subtitute even 0.1% of Diesel).

Currently Biodiesel sold in India, by BioDiesel Pumps may or may not contain any Fatty Acid Methyl Ester or FAME (BioDiesel). It may contain other Bio products. It may be a blend of a number of petroleum products and other colourless esters, (with very low viscocity,) like Methyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate etc. These do not smell like oil.
Keeping in view the importance of developing cheaper and cleaner forms of energy, the Ministry of Railways set up a centralized organization to deal with all related aspects. Bio-diesel forms one of the key thrust areas in future energy planning in the Railways and they had taken up Jatropha plantation in a major way and had already planted more than 20 million (2 crore) saplings all over the country. Since the efforts thus far have been disjointed, Railways would like to carry out further activities in a planned, systematic and coordinated manner. Jatropha can be planted along entire track length across Indian Railways, both sides of which can be profitably used for cropping. Railways would like to involve some experts in these projects and also identify organizations / NGOs / farmer communities / villages who could carry out various activities. For details contact

Both large and small plants will have problems for at least next few years, for procurement raw material.

How conditions in India are different from the developed countries
  1. In India 70% of the population lives in Rural Areas, and depend on Cow Dung and Firewood as main source of fuel for Cooking and Kerosine as Lighting Fuel. The requirement for this sector is 20 to 25 million tons of oil equivalent per year. Cow Dung and Firewood is used for heating and will be replaced by gas. Lighting oil will be slowly replaced by Jatropha / Pongamia / Castor oil. In many developed countries gas is used for heating and electricity for lighting.

  2. According to a SEA release, Import of vegetable oils during September 2018 is reported at 1,491,174 tons compared to 1,519,277 tons in September 2017 consisting 1,422,003 tons of edible oils and 69,171 tons of non-edible oils. In India, edible vegetable oils are in short supply and India needs to import large percentage of total requirements per year, to bridge the gap. Used cooking oil is practically not available, as it is used till the end due to shortage. In many developed countries vegetable oils (Rapeseed, Soy, Palm, Corn, Animal Tallow) are in excess of their local requirements of edible oils. They have to dispose off these oils and converting these to BioDiesel as fuel is best option for them for disposal.

  3. India has best climate and rainfall for growing Jatropha and Cheap labour for Harvesting. Most developed countries lack these two.

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