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Gadkari calls for reduction in sugar production, increase in conversion to ethanol to keep sugar industry in good health

New Delhi [India], March 20 (ANI): Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari on Sunday, urged the sugar producers to reduce the production of sugar and shift to the conversion of sugar into ethanol, in line with the realities of changing times and the needs of the nation.

In Mumbai, the Minister, while addressing the Sugar and Ethanol India Conference (SEIC) 2022, organized by Chini Mandi, news and information portal for the sugar and allied industries, said that it is good for our future to reduce the production of sugar and increase production of ethanol as we are rice-surplus, corn-surplus and sugar-surplus. If sugar production goes ahead as it does now, it will be harmful to the industry in times to come.

The Minister said that the economics of ethanol is superior to that of vehicles run by diesel or petrol.

“We have issued an advisory on flex engines; Toyota, Hyundai and Suzuki have assured me that they will bring flex engines within six months. Recently, we launched a pilot car run by green hydrogen. Toyota Chairman informed me that their car is flex – either 100% petrol or 100% ethanol and that Toyota cars of coming days will be run on hybrid electricity, which will generate 40% electricity and run 60% of the distance using 100% ethanol. This economics will be highly advantageous in comparison to petrol,” he said.

He informed that the Government of India has decided to open biofuel outlets for citizens to fill ethanol and that cars, scooters, motorcycles and rickshaws can be available on flex engines.

Gadkari said, “Prime Minister has inaugurated three ethanol pumps in Pune; however, no one has come so far to fill ethanol. This is because Bajaj, TVS and Hero have launched motorcycles driven by flex engines; scooters and motorcycles are available on flex engines. They are ready to come up with auto-rickshaws as well.”

He asked the ethanol manufacturing sugar factories to open ethanol pumps in their factories and other areas that can bring in 100% ethanol-run scooters, auto-rickshaws and cars and thus increase ethanol consumption, reduce pollution, bring down imports and also provide jobs to people in villages.

“Ethanol is a green and clean fuel; we are producing 465 crore litres of ethanol at present. However, when the E-20 programme gets completed, our requirement will become around 1,500 crore litres. Moreover, in the coming five years, when flex engines get ready, ethanol requirement will become 4,000 crore litres,” said the Union Minister.

“Hence, if you do not convert to ethanol and keep producing sugar, the factory will become loss-making, cautioned the Minister,” he added.

The Minister said India has promised that we will stop the sugar export subsidy after December 2023. To get a reasonable price for sugar, we must discourage sugar production.

Using flex engines in road construction equipment is another way to promote ethanol, the Minister informed. “There has been an 80% rise in manufacturing of road construction equipment machinery; I have told them to stop using diesel engines and convert to flex engines so that ethanol use can be promoted.” The Minister added that biodegradable plastic to has been made from ethanol by Brazil, something which can be replicated in India as well.

The Minister further said that the government is thinking of ways to increase the use of ethanol in the aviation sector and in the Indian Air Force.

“I am in discussion with Air Force Chief and Defence Ministry officials; we are thinking on how to increase the use of ethanol in aviation and the Indian Air Force. We can also consider using ethanol in four lakh telecom mobile towers,” the Minister added.

We need to move towards a green revolution, for which we need to increase production of ethanol, said the Minister.

“Total petroleum imports in our country is at present Rs. 8 lakh crore, which is expected to become Rs. 25 lakh crore in next 5 years. Now, importing Rs. 25 lakh crore of petroleum products will create an economic difficulty. Moreover, new problems will arise due to the influx of fossil fuels at such a high magnitude,” said Gadkari.

He further said, “Ethanol, methanol, bioethanol, bio-CNG, biodiesel, bio-LNG, green hydrogen and electric is where the future lies. From being an energy-importing nation, we need to become an energy-exporting nation. We need to make farmers power suppliers, not just grain suppliers; since grain is in surplus and power is in shortage. Diversification of agriculture towards energy and power sector is the need of the hour.”

He said, “Conversion of knowledge into wealth is the future of the country. It is the vision of appropriate leadership that can convert waste into wealth; hence using biotechnology we need to generate biomass and transform it into biofuel – whether it be bio-CNG, bio-LNG or bioethanol. This is necessary for reducing sound, air and water pollution.

The Minister stated that LNG is the future fuel for the sector and for the country. “The economics of LNG is so good. It is very easy to convert biomass into bio-CNG and bio-LNG. We have brought a scheme to supply CNG through pipelines, CNG pumps are being opened in all places, LNG is also becoming available; so, we are progressing towards a gas economy. Hence the government’s priority is on CNG and LNG instead of petrol and diesel. In coming times, using biomass for biomass and bio-CNG will be very productive,” he said.

Bioethanol can be made from bamboo as well, the Minister said. “Incoming days, using bamboo from wasteland is an opportunity. This can be used in the form of white coal; this will also help bring down coal imports,” said Gadkari.

The industry should also think of green hydrogen, noted the Minister. “The day is not far when green hydrogen will be available. Methane can be produced from organic waste separated from municipal waste. Once carbon dioxide is separated from this, green hydrogen, bio-LNG and bio-CNG can also be produced,” he said.

Green hydrogen can be produced from sewage water as well, noted the Minister. “Sewage water is easily available in municipal towns and corporations. Electrolysers have been developed whereby sewage water can be used to produce green hydrogen,” added Gadkari. (ANI)

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