Could biodiesel solve rural India's job woes? | Cleantech Group Could biodiesel solve rural India's job woes? May 6, 2009 - Orissa government plans massive project to use jatropha plantations to guarantee rural jobs. The government of the Indian state of Orissa is preparing a master plan to use jatropha plantations to secure jobs for its rural areas. The proposal has gained renewed backing in recent months as refiners have begun to extract oil from the seeds of jatropha plants to be used in biodiesel. India accounts for about two-thirds of the world’s jatropha plantations. Jatropha seeds can yield up to 40 percent oil and produce about 60 to 70 U.S. gallons of oil per acre. Estimates are that jatropha oil yields are 10 times that of corn, but that production hasn’t been realized on a commercial scale (see Indian group plans farm of 5B jatropha trees). The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme's Panchayati Raj Department is now working to issue instructions and plans to local districts, reports Indian publication Express Buzz. The government has not yet determined whether it can claim private land for the jatropha plantations. A government land grab of private land led to riots that closed a factory intended for Tata Motors' Nano vehicle last year (see Tata Motors moves Indian Nano plant). Plans to develop 1,500 hectares of jatropha plantations in 2007-08 failed to materialize because of the difficulty in securing project financing (see Record 2008 for cleantech with $8.4B in investments). The government approved the Rs 5 crore ($1 million) proposal by the Science and Technology Department for jatropha plantation and bio-diesel production in the Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) region, which is one of the poorest in India. Companies such as Mumbai-based Bharat Renewable Energy and the government-owned Hindustan Petroleum have already planted more than a million acres of jatropha to provide a million metric tons of biodiesel by 2015 (see $480M Indian refinery signals jatropha shift?).