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'Lift restriction on production of ethanol'

Written by: Staff

Bangalore, Nov 21: To help produce more ethanol, a major source of bio-fuel that was now allowed by the Centre to be mixed with petrol, the State Governments should disband restrictions on its production and draft a committed ethanol policy, South Indian Sugar Mills Association Karnataka President M Srinivaasan said today.

Speaking to newspersons here in connection with the AGM of the Association, he said various States were now allowed five per cent blending of ethanol with petrol. However, States like Karnataka, despite having a much larger capacity, had barred its export to other States, leading to drastic cut in the production.

Mr Srinivaasan said this would not only help find a better alternative to fossil fuel, but also help the industry, both in cooperative and the private sector, that would in turn help farmers get better price for sugarcane.

''We can save more foreign exchange on importing crude oil by stepping up the production of ethanol. However, there are many restrictions. For example, Karnataka produces more than eight lakh tonnes of molasses, of which ethanol is a by-product, but uses less than half of it to produce ethanol, rectified spirit and alcohol.

All these by products should be opened up for exports both outside the State as well as to foreign countries,'' he opined.

Brazil was using 25 per cent of ethanol to be mixed with both petrol and diesel, compared to five per cent in India. The country had made a modest beginning, but should take a leaf out of Brazil's success story and promote more production of ethanol, he said.

SISMA Secretary V Venkata Reddy, calling for a lift on the ban of sugar exports, said the Union Government had banned exports with effect from July four this year. However, with the nation set to produce surplus sugar, the ban should be lifted. Sugar production, which was 19.2 million metric tonnes last year, was likely to touch 23 MMT this year, while the annual consumption would be in the range of 18 to 19 MMT.

''With an opening stock of 45 lakh MT, unless the ban is lifted immediately, the domestic price of sugar, which is already showing a declining trend, will face further decline, resulting in huge loss to the mills. The ex-factory price of sugar has fallen from Rs 1,780 three months ago to less than Rs 1,500 per quintal now. This will affect cane payments, jeopardising the interests of farmers. Like edible oil, sugar should also be made a free commodity,'' he urged.

Denying that private sugar mills were indulging in hoarding, Mr Reddy said the mill owners were not for hoarding, but welcomed open market for sugar.

''We are incurring carryover costs due to severe regulations and price caps. India has the highest growth in sugar consumption at six per cent, compared to the world average of three per cent. Holding the stock is affecting the industry. We must be allowed higher outgo,'' he demanded.


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