New Delhi : Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday stressed on the need to divert excess sugar stock for ethanol manufacturing as provision of subsidies on exports of sweetener will not be permissable after December 2023 under the WTO regime.
Addressing a webinar on alternative fuels organised by industry body ISMA, the minister said the government is promoting ethanol manufacturing in a big way and assured that it will procure all ethanol produced in the country.
With increased supply of ethanol, Gadkari said the government plans to introduce flex fuel engine vehicles in the country.
With the rollout of flex-fuel vehicles on 100 per cent bio-ethanol, the demand for ethanol will immediately jump by 4 to 5 times, he added.
The minister also asked sugar mills to set up their own ethanol pumps, which are being permitted by the government.
“It is under our purview that we can take the decision for making mandatory flex engine for the petrol vehicles. So, that can increase the demand of ethanol in Indian market,” Gadkari said.
Stating that the government is giving permission for the ethanol pump, the minister told sugar mills that they can establish their own pumps.
“Now there is a policy and my own sugar factory, also my son has taken the permission,” he added.
Gadkari said the government is providing export subisdy to the tune of Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 crore to sugar mills for liquidating surplus sugar stocks.
“Due to our commitments to international organisations such as WTO, these subsidies will not be permissable after December 2023,” he pointed out.
As a solution to this problem, Gadkari suggested that the excess sugar stocks can be diverted towards producing ethanol by adding 15-20 per cent sugar into B-Heavy Molasses.
“This will have multiple benefits – firstly, it will utilise an excess stock of around 45 to 60 lakh metric tonnes of sugar and will improve the ethanol recovery by 30 per cent due to better quality of raw material,” he said.
Stressing on the need to discourage the use of petrol or diesel as a fuel, he said the focus should be on the adoption of alternative fuels which will be import substitute, cost-effective, pollution-free and indigenous.
“To make this possible, I am giving a special push for ethanol as fuel. The biggest benefit is that it is a clean fuel with very low greenhouse gas emissions,” the minister said.
The additional income that is generated is directly diverted to the farmers, which empowers the rural and backward economy.
“Ethanol can be the tool to empower our rural and backward areas where we can increase employment and bring prosperity into the lives of our farmers,” he observed.
Gadkari highlighted that India started its programme for ethanol blending with petrol in 2003 but made it mandatory at 5 per cent in 2007.
The government brought the fixed ethanol procurement pricing policy from December 2014.
From around 1 per cent blending in 2014, the country has achieved 5 per cent ethanol blending with petrol in the next 5 years.
From 2018 onwards, Gadkari said the government has been fixing multiple prices for ethanol, based on the feedstock used to produce ethanol.
This encouraged diversion of B-heavy molasses and sugarcane juice into the production of ethanol, he added.