gadkari: Bioethanol can change the face of rural economy and rural India, Gadkari tells ET GBS 2022

The depletion of natural resources and the resulting pollution and global warming due to fuel use has plagued us together for decades. And the only solution lies in the introduction of renewable and environmentally friendly resources like biofuels, to power automobiles and machinery.

On Day 2 of ET GBS 2022, Bodhisattva Ganguly, Editor-in-Chief, The Economic Times spoke with
Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Government of Indiaon current government projects and initiatives around alternative fuels, bioethanol and its development.

In his keynote speech, Gadkari lifted the lid on advances in the much-talked-about flexi engines, which he explained are hybrid-electric engines and will run on 100% ethanol, 40% fuel. electricity and even entirely on gasoline in case of emergency. He said major car manufacturers were already developing the flexi engines, but it would take 6 months due to Euro VI engine compliance.

Bioethanol production, however, is not a new venture for India. However, Gadkari equates bioethanol production with the diversification of agriculture into the energy and power sector, empowerment of farmers and rapid employment in rural India. The current production of 400 crore liters of bioethanol is expected to increase to 4,000 liters after the development of flexible engines. Gadkari sees bioethanol prepared from molasses, sugar cane juice, rice and corn as a much cheaper and more sustainable substitute.

Talking about other initiatives in this direction, Gadkari highlighted some interesting facts about the production of bio-LNG and bio-CNG. He explained that 5 tons of rice straw, which when burned during winters causes dangerous levels of pollution, can also produce 1 ton of bio-LNG. Among biofuels, green hydrogen made from sewage, solid waste management and used for various industries is also produced. Toyota’s first green hydrogen car in India will be launched on March 18.

Additionally, 250 Indian start-ups have also been involved in the development of energy-efficient electric scooters which the minister said would dramatically transform the transportation experience of working-class workers. These pollution-free scooters have been priced at Rs 70,000 and will cover a distance of 70 km, at a speed of 40 km per hour.

Gadkari also drew attention to major infrastructure projects underway like road construction in the northeast, green express highways to connect major cities across the country. He aspires to make the automotive industry the most job and revenue generating the best in the world.

Meenakshi Lekhi

Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture of India, Government of India in his closing speech resonated with Gadkari with similar goals of sustainability, peace and growth in India with the great powers. She emphasized the complementary relationship of the Indian ethos with a new perspective to show the way.

India is spearheading initiatives on climate change with international agreements such as the strategic partnership with Denmark, the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). These help to provide stability and harmony with the neighborhood as well as with the extended neighborhood. The rapid work of rail connectivity projects with the port of Bangladesh Sittwe, Nepal and Myanmar was highlighted. Also, inland water projects with the energy networks of Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh were highlighted to show India’s growing involvement in the region.

Ms. Lekhi also described the Ganga Mekong project as a binding and strong force for India in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region besides strengthening partnerships with the multipolar world, US, Japan and EU. She emphasized self-reliance as the spirit of India’s international ties with a middle way approach, the need for a strategic economy and human-centred globalization.

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