The Secretary of the Hyderabad Karnataka Development Board (HKDB), Shalini Rajneesh, has said that under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), bio-fuel crops should be grown on barren lands in the district.

Ms. Shalini Rajneesh directed the Gulbarga zilla panchayat members to hold discussions with owners of the barren land in this regard. According to her, if bio-fuel crops are grown on identified barren lands, besides benefiting the farmers concerned, it would also help in reducing the demand for petrol and diesel.

Official sources told The Hindu that satellite images of lands showed that a large portion of arable land was also uncultivated and was wasted. Remote sensing images of the satellite have identified lands with survey numbers and gives clear details on the state of the land, whether there are shrubs or not, whether it is cultivated or uncultivated.

Ms. Shalini Rajneesh wanted the zilla panchayat to identify farmers who have not cultivated their land and persuade them to cultivate bio-fuel crops. She suggested that the owner of the land could be persuaded to take up cultivation of bio-fuel crops on his land and he could be paid wages under the NREGA. This would serve a dual purpose of benefiting the farmer under NREGA and also in the utilisation of the unused barren land. She said bio-fuel crops would fetch a good price in the market and their cultivation is also easy.

A Remote Sensing Satellite Centre on Gulbarga University campus was inaugurated by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. The centre was established by the Hyderabad Karnataka Development Board in association with Gulbarga University and the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Ms Shalini Rajneesh has sent information on barren lands, including their survey numbers, in the district and the satellite imageries to the Chief Executive Officer of the zilla panchayat Anbukumar for follow-up action.

Accroding to official sources, Ms. Shalini Rajneesh has suggested that even government land that remain unused and even those that are barren should be used for cultivation of bio-fuel crops. She said the Department of Forests should take up this work under the Social Forestry Scheme using the NREGA funds.

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