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Karnataka Forest Department plans bamboo cultivation for biomass power

According to reports, the Forest Department plans to cultivate bamboo on a large scale on its wastelands to generate biomass power that could help reduce the power-starved State’s peak-hour woes.

Announcing this after releasing the status report and conservation action plan for Kaan Forests (sacred groves) of Shimoga district, prepared by a team of experts appointed by the Western Ghats Task Force in Bangalore on Tuesday, Minister for Forests C.P. Yogeshwar said the department was in the process of assessing the extent of land that could be used for cultivation of bamboo as well as the potential for power generation.

“We will be in a position to give you data on the extent of land suitable for bamboo cultivation and the targeted power generation in eight to ten days,” Mr. Yogeshwar said.

The Minister, who visited bamboo-based biomass power plants in Mundargi in north Karnataka and some areas in Tamil Nadu, said the Bheema variety of bamboo that would start yielding within two years of plantation would be chosen for cultivation. This variety would be replicated through tissue culture for better yields, he noted.

This variety could fetch revenue of Rs. 2,000 per tonne, which is higher when compared to revenues earned from sugarcane cultivation, he said.

According to experts, 200 acres of bamboo cultivation could help take care of biomass needs of a power plant with a capacity of one megawatt, he said.

To begin with, Mr. Yogeshwar is planning to introduce bamboo cultivation on about 30,000 acres of wasteland of farmers in his native Ramanagaram district on a pilot basis by using the sewage water that flows from Bangalore. He said a report in this regard had already been submitted to the Chief Secretary seeking financial assistance for farmers to take up bamboo cultivation.

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