The department of chemicals and petrochemicals has convened a meeting of various secretaries to the Union government as well as chief secretaries of select states on October 19 to discuss issues related to ethanol, sources said on Thursday.
Industry associations like the CII and Ficci have also been asked to join the meeting called by chemicals secretary Surjit Kumar Chaudhary, a source told FE.
The move has stoked curiosity as well as apprehensions among some stakeholders on the purpose and relevance of any such meeting convened by a department that was not part of the decision-making process of the government’s programme on blending ethanol with petrol at a 10:90 ratio.
The chemicals industry had in the past objected to the government’s mandatory blending programme on grounds that any large-scale diversion of molasses towards the making of fuel ethanol would drag down supplies of the cane-byproduct for competing industries, including chemical companies and pottable alcohol makers. In such a context, some ethanol producers fear the latest meeting may be another attempt to derail the blending programme, although the agenda of the meeting is still unclear.
In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed ministries concerned to look for ways to make the proposed 10% blending programme a reality soon, which is aimed at improving realisations for sugar mills that produce ethanol so that their ability to clear cane arrears improve. The govenrment is also pushing for the sale of ethanol-blended petrol to cut down on vehicular pollution.