Nitin Gadkari
Nitin Gadkari announced Rs 41,000 road projects for the state of Telangana, Picture: Nitin GadkariReuters file

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has big plans to tap the potential of bamboo. He believes bamboo can be a great 'economic change agent.'

"We will shortly make a presentation before Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A bamboo sub-group is likely to be constituted under the Niti Aayog. Bamboo can give employment to at least 50 lakh people in rural areas," Gadkari told PTI.

Gadkari recently chaired a high-level meeting to talk about tapping the potential of bamboo, the meeting was attended by several ministers including Smriti Irani, Mohan Singh and Prakash Javadekar. The bamboo market is currently fixed at $10 billion, PTI reported.

The calorific value of bamboo stands at 4,000 which reflects a huge potential.

"Bamboo can be employed for generating green power. Apart from livelihood opportunities, we will have an alternative to petrol, diesel and gas, which pollutes environment," Gadkari said.

"That's not all. It can also lead to a lower import bill, which runs into an annual Rs 8 lakh crore," the minister further added.

Gadkari believes bamboo is a clean source of power which would go a long way in reducing the ill-effects of pollution, PTI reported.

"Production of ethanol, which is derived from bamboo and mostly used as a substitute for petrol and diesel, is not an issue. The norms for bio-diesel and ethanol have been changed and granted necessary approvals," he added.

The government plans to plant bamboo plantations alongside one lakh national highways. Gadkari is working on plans to encourage farmers to opt for bamboo plantations.

"It will translate into at least Rs 5000 crore for plantations in the next five years" Gadkari said, as reported by PTI.

In a bid to popularise and promote the agricultural product, Gadkari gifted an intricately carved bamboo briefcase to Tata sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata during an official visit, PTI reported.