The Centre plans to prepare policies for promoting the production and usage of alternative fuels such as ethanol and methanol, aimed at pruning the country’s annual R6 lakh-crore crude imports bill by at least R1 lakh crore per year using agro wastes. Draft policies on the two fuels would be prepared by the petroleum ministry for approval of the Cabinet, Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.
Following a meeting with his petroleum counterpart Dharmendra Pradhan, Gadkari said, if second-generation ethanol can be produced from bamboo, cotton straw, wheat straw, rice straw and bagass etc, it could lead to creation of 25 lakh rural jobs and establishment of 1,500-2,000 industry units, mostly in villages. “Production of ethanol derived from molasses is barely 119 crore litres now against the minimum requirement of 450-500 crore litres. We get hardly 3% ethanol whereas we can mix 22% in petrol. So, there is a shortage of 19%,” Gadkari said, adding that the petroleum ministry will take up the task as a mission.
The minister said that setting up of the industrial units would also help thwart rural people’s migration to urban areas for jobs. Since coal production is also in surplus now, plans are on to produce methanol from the dry fuel as well. A policy on this would also be prepared by the petroleum ministry, he said.
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The transport minister further said that the government is also making it mandatory for all trucks contracted by various departments like the FCI, petroleum and mines etc., to carry electronic toll tags for easier passage at the toll plazas. The petroleum ministry has already moved in this direction with its 46,000 POL trucks using FASTags while LPG trucks being in the process of acquiring such tags. Sources said a total of 3,42,500 FASTags have been issued till February 25.