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Sugar industry needs govt support for ethanol production: ISMA

New Delhi, The sugar industry will need government support to produce ethanol required to meet the target of achieving 20 per cent mixing with petrol by 2025, Indian Sugar Mills Association President Aditya Jhunjhunwala said on Wednesday.  As per the estimates of the Niti Aayog, to achieve 20 per cent of ethanol (E20) blending in petrol in the country by 2025, 1,000 crore litres of ethanol will be required, he said while speaking at an event organised by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).  This would require higher ethanol production capacities, more distilleries and government policies to boost sugarcane and sugar production in the country, he added.  “The sugar industry has set its goal to have approximately 100 lakh tonnes of sugar and thus converting 1,000 crore litres of ethanol only from the sugar industry apart from the grains,” Jhunjhunwala said.  The industry has already utilised existing production capacities, he said, adding “the next option is to put up new greenfield projects”.

“The sugar industry is ramping up its investment and improvement in cane varieties and ethanol production, and we will need some support from the government and handholding,” Jhunjhunwala said.  Certain issues about smooth blending and production of ethanol need to be addressed to achieve the short-term and long-term targets, he noted.  Speaking at the event, Minister of Petroleum and Natural gas and Urban Development Hardeep Puri, however, said the focus has to be on diversification of sources of ethanol, such as agricultural waste and paddy straws as sugarcane is a water-intensive crop.  “I always worry when people ask, as your president (Jhunjhunwala) did, about sugar. Sugar is very water intensive… So in many ways, if you look at how much ethanol you can produce from sugar, you are actually exporting water…I don’t think that’s effective,” the minister added.

While acknowledging that there are local considerations to be made, Puri said, “…we should be very careful and we also want to avoid the global debate which came on food security”