In a major boost to industry-starved Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated on Saturday a greenfield grain-based ethanol plant built at a cost of Rs 105 crore at Purnea. The project is a part of Bihar’s ambitious foray into ethanol production using sugarcane, maize and rice to meet the country’s fuel needs.
The ethanol plant has been built using the latest technology and will not discharge any waste, making it a zero-liquid discharge plant that is completely environment friendly. It was commissioned under the Government of India and the Bihar dispensation’s ethanol promotion policies announced in 2021.
The plant will buy 130 tons of rice husk and 145-150 tons of maize or rice directly from local farmers. It will generate direct employment to 52 people and create avenues of earning for hundreds of others in the area.
The factory will also produce 27 tons of DDGS (distiller’s dried grains with solubles) as a by-product, processed from its waste, which will be sold for animal feed, and help the dairy and poultry farmers in the State.
The ethanol will be exclusively sold to the Oil Marketing Companies namely Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum in the State of Bihar and neighbouring States of West Bengal and Jharkhand, for which a 10 year long term purchase agreement has been with the OMCs.
Bihar’s industry minister Shahnawaz Hussain told ET that the state plans to utilize its sizable maize production- three maize crops are harvested every year in the state- along with sugarcane and broken rice which is not fit for consumption. The ground water level in the state is good due to several waterbodies. Availability of labour- at a relatively cheap rate- also works to the advantage of the state.
Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have signed agreements with 17 units with the approved capacity of 1080 kilo litre per day production of ethanol in the coming days. Out of these 17 units, the first will become functional on Saturday while three others are ready for production. Two of these are located in Gopalganj while one is in Bhojpur.
At present, Bihar has got a quota of 36 crore liters of ethanol supply annually to Oil manufacturing companies. But as per the availability of raw materials and water for ethanol production, Bihar’s ethanol production capacity is 172 crore liters per annum, considering the proposals for investment and other favorable conditions.