Bihar might not have abundance of minerals to support heavy industries, but its rich reserves of water and plenitude of grains and sugar cane have resulted in ethanol or biofuel revolution in the state.
Historically, trade has flourished mostly in civilisations situated adjacent to rivers or seas from where transportation through waterways becomes easier.
With Ganga flowing along the centre of the state, Bihar was a once great centre of trade and commerce and attracted merchants and in – tellectuals from across the globe. However, the industrial economy of Bihar received a major setback after the re – organization of states and creation of Jharkhand in 2000. Most large indus – trial centres and important mineral pro – ducing districts of erstwhile Bihar were transferred to Jharkhand.
However, the agriculture-rich Bihar re – cently found a new avenue of utilising its resources by making a foray into ethanol production. Under the new ethanol policy of the government of India, Bihar has the highest number of ethanol plants. Of the 17 big plants approved in the state, two have been inau – gurated and several others are ready for commissioning over the next few months.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar had inaugurated Bihar’s first ethanol plant at Purnia on May 7, 2022. It has the capacity to produce 65,000 litres of ethanol per day.
The employment opportunity will also help stop migration of people outside Bihar,” Poundrik added. State industry minister Sameer Mahaseth said altogether 12 departments are coordinating to boost ethanol production in Bihar.
“The state has huge potential in etha – nol production,” the minister said. Bihar produces 35 lakh metric tonnes of maize every year, the highest in the country.
Much of the ethanol revo – lution in the state stems from Ethanol Production Promotion Policy, 2021 launched by Bihar government in March 2021, making it the first state in the country to have its own ethanol promotion policy under National Policy of Biofuels, 2018.
The state ethanol policy has allowed extraction of ethanol from surplus quantities of maize and other starch- rich grains, which was earlier limited only to sugar cane.
“Bihar has become an ethanol hub primarily due to the National Policy of Bio – fuels, 2018 introduced by the Narendra Modi government. It allowed production of eth – anol from maize and beaten rice,” former state industry minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The state government, however, has been demand – ing extension of quota for Bi – har to produce more ethanol.