Nitin Gadkari bats for bamboo as substitute for coal: Point counterpoint

Lalit Shastri

A news item the other day quoting Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that bamboo can be a good substitute for coal.

The experts don’t agree with this. On being contacted mining and forestry experts said Bamboo does not give  good quality coal. It’s calorific value is also very less. 

A retired Indian Forest Service officer said bamboo, when burnt at low temperature, it releases potentially hazardous gases that are injurious to human health. That is why we avoid lighting agarbatti or incense sticks made of bamboo. Instead the traditional dhoop is much preferred by people. 

While acknowledging that bamboo can be used in gassifier to produce electricity but that is too costly a process and therefore not a single bamboo based electricity generation project could take off. Besides, solar energy is much more cheaper and a better option, it is being pointed out in knowledgeable circles. 

Even as building material, bamboo has not been popular and it cannot replace steel.

Of course Bamboo can be used to our great advantage as furniture material and also as a substitute for plastic vinyl. 

Mr Gadkari deserves to be complimented for focussing attention towards bamboo but it would be better at this stage if attention is drawn to the systematic.and progressive destruction of vast bamboo forests as decade after decade successive governments have failed to earmark funds to protect the bamboo forests during the gregarious  flowering cycle. due to this reason even bamboo nurseries have become a casualty.   

In the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh alone we have lost 90% bamboo forest and within a span of 10 years its production has decreased to just 25000 notional ton from 1 lakh notional ton in 2010.

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