INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY SHRI NITIN GADKARI, UNION MINISTER FOR ROAD TRANSPORT AND HIGHWAYS & SHIPPING AT THE 81ST AGM
“Excerpts from the speech”
“ I am well aware of the financial hardship that the Sugar industry is facing today. The financial situation of the industry is deteriorating rapidly due to an excess sugar production in the world. Also as there is no linkage between the prices of sugarcane and sugar, this is further affecting the financial health of the mills. The Government is well aware of these issues faced by the industry. I am aware that the banks are not able to extend loans and other financial support to the mills, knowing fully well financial problems faced by the industry.
The Government has already extended a lot of help and announced concessions to the sugar industry, and I assure that we will keep helping the industry.
I will like to concentrate on something else today. It is imperative for the development of the country, that the country’s agriculture sector diversify towards energy and power generation. Sugarcane is one such crop, that can help in this.
As we all know that sugarcane is a preferred crop and is profitable to the farmers. More and more farmers prefer to plant sugarcane as against other crops. But we should strive to increase the productivity of cane and decrease the cost of production. This will encourage the cane farmers, and especially in UP, we should strive to increase productivity and bring down the costs. This will improve the overall situation of cane farming in the State.
Another important point I will like to stress today is how to increase the production of ethanol and ensure that ethanol blending is increased in the country.
I strongly believe that bio-fuel is cost effective, pollution free and can substitute crude oil import. Hence, we are focusing on ethanol, bio-diesel, bio-CNG and electric. The Parliament will also get two cost-effective lithium-ion batteries fitted buses on 21st December.
Now, how to increase the production of ethanol? There are only 130 out of 500 sugar mills in the country, that have distillation capacity to produce ethanol. This number has to go up. To increase ethanol blending to the 100 per cent level, sugar mills need to raise production capacity from the current level. In next 4-5 years, we have to concentrate a lot on ethanol production, this will only help the industry survive the future. We need to ensure that maximum sugar is converted to produce ethanol. For that we need technological solution.
I visited Brazil few months back. There, 70% cars run on flexi-fuel. I want flexi-fuel technology to come to India, soon. We are working on a policy on flexi-fuel vehicles. These vehicles can run entirely on ethanol, but also have option for petrol. I will make this announcement before January 26. There is not much research or study is required to finalise the policy, as countries like the US and Brazil are already implementing it. I have asked automobile companies like Volkswagen, to make flexi-fuel vehicles in India. This will not only cut crude oil imports, but help in addressing the problem of pollution.
I have told automobile makers that it will be good if they come on board with us on the issue. Even if they don't, then we will make efforts to bring them on board. This will happen for sure.
I also wish to formulate a policy along with the Agriculture Ministry whereby every sugar mill is encouraged to install distilleries with ethanol production capacities.
Along with sugarcane, we are also looking at how to convert sugar beet, sweet sorghum and corn to produce more ethanol. We can also try to convert bio-mass to ethanol production. These will all help in increasing ethanol production.
When ethanol production would be in surplus, we will convert it into manufacturing ethanol bio-plastic? All MNC giants like Coca-cola, Pepsi, have made usage of bio-plastic bottles mandatory. There is a growing demand of bio-plastic. The sugar industry can diversify into bio-plastic, this will help the industry survive in the future.
Sugar prices are not going to improve soon, as there is a global sugar glut, and Brazil will not reduce sugar production. The future lies in ethanol generation, this is good for the farmers, rural employment and country’s overall growth.
The Government is giving all possible push to the ethanol programme in the country. In fact in Nagpur we plied a bus on 100% ethanol. Now we will start 50 more buses in the city that run on 100% fuel ethanol.
Whenever sugar industry is facing a problem, they can approach me. I am there to help the industry the maximum.
I wish all the best to the new President of ISMA. The Government will help the industry in all possible way.”