India’s first pilot project to test ethanol-run environment-friendly public buses was launched in Nagpur by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday.
The “Green Bus” project is a brain child of Mr Gadkari, who claimed the carbon-dioxide emissions from the bus will be as low as 75 per cent to 90 per cent — depending on the purity of ethanol.
Nonetheless, the emissions will be monitored for the next three months by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, the state and the central governments.
A massive Rs. 6 lakh crore annual fuel bill has ruined the economy, Mr Gadkari said. Using ethanol is expected to reduce the fiscal deficit and fuel imports by Rs. 2 lakh crore. Plus, ethanol being currently priced at Rs. 50 a litre, it would mean cheaper transport for the people.
“This was my dream. Now I want to ensure that the entire automotive industry moves onto indigenous fuels,” Mr Gadkari said. “Ethanol can be produced here in large quantities, and it will reduce our dependence on traditional fossil fuels.”
While many appreciated Mr Gadkari’s efforts, his critics accused him of having another agenda: Pushing his private business.
Ethanol is produced from molasses, a by-product of sugar mills. The Purti Group, of which Gadkari is a shareholder, runs several sugar mills and also sells ethanol.
But the minister insisted he has no such motive. “I am not keen on ethanol because I produce it. I can give ethanol free to the city. So don’t say this project is being undertaken to benefit me,” he said.