Biofuels not Sustainable as Fuels for Automobiles in India: Ramesh

While biofuels are being considered as the alternative fuel for the vehicles in a number of countries, they are not the sustainable option as the fuel for automobiles in India, said Jairam Ramesh, Environment Minister of Indian Union cabinet. As per the Minister in a country like India, food security is the prime concern for the large population of the country.

Along the sidelines of the automobiles conference, Ramesh said, “We should take a cautious approach towards it (bio-fuel) as its production would require land and crops. It will be difficult as there are other needs like food security in the country.”

The biofuels are produced from the remains of crops, plants, and trees and they are cleaner to burn since they cause much lesser pollution than the fossil fuels. The main problem for using the biofuels is getting the raw material from which the fuel can be extracted. In fact, the technology for using these fuels in automobiles is also not that developed in India.

The Environment Minister said that there is a lot of difference between the other countries like Brazil that use produce biofuels and India. As per him, India has a large population and there is a scarcity of land to develop the product exclusively for the biofuels.

He said, “We are a country of a billion people adding ten million every year, and we have serious food security issues. Diverting land or crops for biofuels cannot be a sustainable option.”

A few years back in 2007, the government had permitted adding of 5% of biofuel (ethanol) to diesel, but not beyond that. The government fears that in the more use of biofuel is allowed in the country, the business-oriented people would utilize most of their crops to produce expensive and profitable biofuels leading shortage of the food in India and rising of the prices.

Jairam Ramesh is of the opinion that CNG is a more viable option in the country like India. As per him the policies in the automobile sector should be changed to encourage more use of CNG. He further said that the prices of diesel should be deregulated like petrol to reduce the misuse of diesel and increase the use of cleaner fuels like CNG.

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