Switching to biofuels such as ethanol and methanol, besides biogas, will make India pollution-free and generate employment, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said here on Tuesday.
“Alternative fuel sources such as ethanol, biogas and compressed natural gas which are cost-effective and pollution-free are the way forward for the country and the state,” said the minister. He was speaking at the valedictory function of “Badalta Maharashtra”, a two-day conclave organised by Marathi daily Loksatta of The Indian Express group.
He said that switching to ethanol, methanol and CNG will also empower farmers. Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel produced by fermentation of sugarcane— found in abundance in Western Maharashtra.
“We should promote large scale production of ethanol to meet the demand in the country. We would not need to import any fuel from any country,” said Gadkari.
If the transition is achieved, the country can cut down its dependence on petroleum. This will help reduce the country’s imports and make the country self-sufficient in fuel. “If we increase usage of ethanol, companies such as Bharat Petroleum will become redundant and shut down,” said Gadkari.
Gadkari announced that the government is planning to convert one lane of the national highway between Mumbai and New Delhi into an electrified lane for electric buses and vehicles. “We are planning to convert the last lane of the highways from Mumbai to Baroda, Baroda to Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad to Delhi to electric lanes,” said Gadkari. Currently 55 buses in Nagpur run on ethanol, he said.
Among other plans, the minister expressed the possibility of a bus service between Mumbai and Pune that will run entirely on ethanol. He urged officials and policy-makers in Mumbai to consider launching methane-run public transport in the city.
“Individual cars and vehicles must be discouraged and people should be encouraged to use public transport only,” said Gadkari.
‘Electricity tariff will be halved by 2030’
Electricity tariff will be halved in the state by 2030 as envisaged by the government’s masterplan for development of energy resources, said Maharashtra Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule. He said the plan has been prepared bearing in mind the estimated rise in residential consumption of power.
“Currently, the demand for residential consumption is pegged at 23,000 MW but will increase by 1.5 times in a few years. The plan has been prepared keeping that increase in mind,” said Bawankule at the Badalta Maharashtra conclave.
The minister pointed out that by breathing life into several erstwhile defunct power plants such as Koradi, Chandrapur and Parli, the government has been able to generate 3,200 MW power and plug the shortage of power. He also claimed that the cost of production has dropped by 30 paise.
Bawankule said that to meet the increasing power demand in Mumbai, the generation capacity will be increased from 3,800 MW to 5,500 MW.
The minister announced that soon he will bring the tariff of distributors— Tata Power, Reliance Energy and Maharashtra State Energy Distribution Company Ltd— at par for usage of energy till 300 MW.