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'Govt promoting ethanol production in a big way'

Govt promoting ethanol production in a big way
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New Delhi: Stressing on the need to divert excess sugar stock for ethanol manufacturing as provision of subsidies on exports of sweetener will not be permissible after December 2023 under the WTO regime, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said that 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 that 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 a mandatory flex engine for the petrol vehicles. So, that can increase the demand of ethanol in the 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 son has taken the permission as he has a sugar factory," he said, adding that the government is providing export subsidies 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 permissible 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 an import substitute, cost-effective, pollution-free and indigenous.

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