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Employment Through Energy – Should Be India’s Objective

The bio-fuel fever has spread all over the world now. The “International Bio-Fuels Forum” has a tough job ahead. Five major consumers of fossil fuel United States, China, Brazil, South Africa and European Commission including India have joined hands to develop, produce & promote the use of bio-fuel.

This is a good sign for everyone including Ethanol Industry in India. India has to show its presence and be a part of the Decision-Makers of the international bio-fuel forum to get advantages in future. But I believe in order to have a commercial advantage, India’s forum should be strong by itself first. The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas is trying hard but there are few loopholes & issues still to address.

It’s good to see that the oil company’s have floated tenders for ethanol for future 3 years and the price also given is quite competitive. But the problem lies ahead. The sugar industry in India is in blood-bath (as rate of the sugar is Rs. 1250/- per tonn). The only way to survive is to manufacture & sell the 94.68% hydrous alcohol or ethanol.

The prices of molasses have gone down to Rs. 1000/- (less tan Rs. 1000/- in some parts of Maharashtra). Its very crystal clear that cane price which are rocket high at this stage (Rs. 1250/- per tonn), the farmers must be thinking that there chances of getting Rs. 1250/- is in dark. Lot of movements are started to give support price for sugar around Rs. 16/- per kg. But it will need lot of retrospect as international prices play a vital role here.

Ethanol is the solution which looks bright now. The government should seriously think to make the policy more user-friendly, that is to allow free movement of denatured spirit & ethanol in interstates. The state excise though cannot have a control on it but still are monitoring and do not want to let the movement & manufacturing go out of there hand. In the free economy this will be hurdle in the growth of bio-fuels in future.

It’s high time that automobiles companies of India are standing out of the drama. They should plunge into & play a active role to lift this sector. Flexi-fuel cars in India can be a revolution; remember Brazil 9 cars sold out of 10 today are flex-fuel cars.

Indian Automobile giants can do more better than this. What is stopping them! The government should make an awareness on such concepts. Organizations like PCRA Petroleum Conservation Research Association – which are again monitored by oil corporations cannot take a very active role. It doesn’t mean that they are not doing the job & creating awareness of bio-fuels, but they can do lot better; might be their hands are tied up by themselves.

India has lot of potential within to multiply bio-fuels. Technology is not a worry at all. India can be a major “Ethanol Hub”. Efforts should be focused on to crystallize the revolution.

(Presentation on “India as ethanol Hub” by Mr. Deepak Desai in Bio-energy World Americas Conference at Brazil - free download).

Recent budget gave an exemption of excise duty on Bio-diesel (which is for the future & having a negligible impact in the present.). But it is hard to believe why ethanol didn’t attract any subsidies?, which was must. Is the ethanol association not working hard to prove the importance. It was surprising that ethanol didn’t have a single line to say in the budget; when sugar cane is India’s prime crop & everyone spoke about promoting agriculture to sustain the 9.5% growth as against the 2.5% agriculture GDP, but we believe we should of thought about the things which are in our hands right now & ethanol was one of them. Since it has direct relevance with substitute for crude imports which attracts 65 to 70% of import value. I think this is disgusting.

Remember, India has large population too. Promoting bio-fuel industry from the root level & monitoring it carefully will employ large number of people which will create a win-win situation; Economy on the top end & employment generation on back end. Anyway at least we are taking positive initiatives to make it happen.


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