Animal power

Animal power The Union ministry of non-conventional energy sources (MNES) plans to increase exploitation of the country's draught animal power (DAP) potential. A report prepared by an MNES committee, in consultation with the Bangalore-based Centre for Appropriate Rural Transportation and Management (CARTMAN), suggests the government increases its annual spending on technology development and popularisation in this sector from about Rs 25 lakh now to more than Rs 100 crore by 1998.

The report points says there are 84 million draught animals, such as bullocks and camels, in the country, representing "energy assets" worth nearly Rs 25,000 crore. The animals are estimated to be capable of ploughing, hauling and transporting with a total energy equivalent of 30,000 MW of power annually. Presently, less than 40 per cent of DAP potential is used. Even this, argues CARTMAN director M S Ramaswami, "represents petrol and diesel substitution worth nearly Rs 4,000 crore every year".

The report suggests an investment of about Rs 6,000 crore in technology development programmes could create tillage and ploughing facilities for the 60 million farms of less than four ha each, which is considered to be the minimum area for economically viable use of tractors. Also, DAP potential utilisation could provide Rs 30,000 crore worth of "truck-substitutes" over short distances (upto 15 km) in areas that are not serviced by motorable roads.

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