Former Maharashtra minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari has said that motor vehicles could run by using ethanol alone.
Gadkari said that one of the vehicles -- a Maruti 1000 -- that ferried invitees from Nagpur to the inauguration of a sugar mill near Nagpur on Saturday -- had used ethanol as fuel.
The technology was perfected by a group of experts who fitted the car with a conversion kit manufactured by a Canadian company.
"The trial car's smooth run has encouraged us to promote ethanol as an alternative fuel for motor vehicles," Gadkari said.
In future, after the plant starts full-fledged operations, Purti will open a chain of retail outlets for selling ethanol and will also make conversion kits, he said.
Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata has also promised help in conducing research on the subject, he said.
Indian cars will then run on Indian fuel, he said. It will also save a large chunk of the Rs 85,000 crore (Rs 850 billion) that the country spends on importing petroleum products every year, according to Gadkari.
He said that considering the administrative constraints, it was better to promote ethanol as an alternative fuel rather than as a blend. There are too many regulations and licences if one wants to make ethanol for blending purposes but no licence is required if one does not go for blends, he said.
Moreover, the present permission of 5 per cent blending in petrol is too low and the government must allow 22 per cent blending, he said.
In future, Purti will also make bio-diesel from oilseeds found in forests such as karanji, ratanjit and moha. The oil will be extracted by villagers themselves and processed by the plant, he said.
Gadkari said that sugarcane cultivation will pick up in the region now that the plant has opened. More than 16,000 acre land is under irrigation and is suitable for sugarcane cultivation, he said. The plant will be needing 2,500 metric tonne sugarcane per day.
Purti Karkhana has been set up at an investment of Rs 180 crore (Rs 1.80 billion) and more investment will be made over the coming months. During crushing season, it will employ nearly 500 people. It will give indirect employment to thousands, Gadkari said.The plant's boilers run on steam generated by burning bagasse, other agro waste material and coal. The same steam is used to run the power turbine which generates 3.5 mw power. The power is used to run the plant. Another 24.5 mw power generator will be set up in the next three to four months, he said. The factory has shareholding of 16,000 farmers, he said.