Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has said that a push for bio-fuels like ethanol and butanol is not only feasible but desirable for the country, considering how it could save foreign exchange and promote GDP growth.
Speaking on Friday afternoon at the launch event of India's first motorcycle that runs on the bio-fuel ethanol, the TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100, Gadkari pointed out how switching to bio-fuel on a big scale could be a panacea for many ills. “Oil imports cost India Rs 7 lakh crores every year, at the same time there is pollution also,” Gadkari pointed out. “But bio-fuels like ethanol and butanol (which can be used in planes) can be extracted from sugar cane and used in vehicles and aircraft. Sugar is surplus right now and everywhere we have a lot of sugar refineries... which can alternatively be used for making the bio-fuels which are not only economical and efficient, but are pollution free.
The transport minister especially feels that butanol, extracted from sugar canes, could be the solution to the beleagured aviation sector in the country. “This is time for the country to replace the Rs 40,000 crore we spend on importing aviation petroleum, and replace it with (locally produced) butanol, it is cheaper and standards have already been finalised. Boeing, Bombardier, Airbus all have the capability. This will solve the problems of the aviation industry.”
“If we can divert Rs 2 lakh crore into bio fuel out of the Rs 7 lakh crore we spend on importing petroleum products presently, it will create employment opportunities, rejuvenate the agriculture sector, increase our GDP and reduce our imports, at the same time it is a green fuel, so we can reduce pollution,” he argued.
The minister said he would request the petroleum ministry permission to allow ethanol fuelling stations at regular petrol pumps across the country, in co-ordination with NITI Aayog. Nitin Gadkari also repeated his exhortation to sugar mill owners to switch to making ethanol (and butanol) and pointed out how mills in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka could benefit from this.