More use of alternative fuels such as LNG, CNG or ethanol would bring respite from surging fuel prices, which are now “agitating” people, says Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. Inaugurating the country’s first commercial liquefied natural gas (LNG) filling station in Nagpur on Sunday, Gadkari said the use of ethanol as vehicle fuel would help save at least Rs 20 per litre despite its lower calorific value compared to petrol.
The minister said indigenous fuels such as ethanol, methanol and bio-CNG would give tough competition to imported crude oil and that’s the only way to get the best price for consumers. Gadkari said he had urged the government to privatize the petroleum and natural gas sector, which has already been opened up.
Last week, fuel prices increased for the fourth time this month. Prices have been on the rise since May 4 after oil marketing companies (OMCs) resumed their price revisions ending on 18-day hiatus that coincided with the assembly elections in five key states. During this period, petrol price has increased by Rs 9.81 per litre and diesel has climbed by Rs 8.80 in New Delhi. Since May 4, the price of petrol has crossed the Rs 100 – per litre mark in at least 16 states and union territories including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Ladakh, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Kerala, Punjab, Sikkim, Delhi and West Bengal. It has to be noted that fuel prices in India vary from state to state depending on local taxation (VAT) and freight charges, with the central government also charging excise duty on auto fields.
The petroleum ministry, in 2020, simplified guidelines for authorization for bulk and retail marketing of petrol and diesel. This was done to increase private sector participation in the marketing of petrol and diesel. Moreover, the ministry is likely to announce a policy for flex-fuel engines soon, which will encourage automobile manufacturers to produce them.
“Now, we have invited all private companies, including PSUs, in the field. Even you can import LNG,” Gadkari said, adding the clean fuel has a great future in the country. LNG is emerging as the most preferred fuel for long-haul transport across the globe. “In our economy, we are spending Rs 8 lakh crore for the import of petrol, diesel and petroleum products which is a big challenge. Being a nationalist, I want that our import should reduce and export must increase.”