Mumbai : In order to tackle emission levels in cities like Mumbai and New Delhi, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari  and his ministry is working towards setting up a special roadway along the dedicated freight corridor (DFC) for lanes which would allow only electric trucks along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial corridor (DMIC).

Gadkari, who was in the city for a conference ‘India’s Road Ahead’ organised by The Free Press Journal and, said, “My main aim is to stop the import of crude oil.” He thinks that this is easily possible by embracing bio fuels like ethanol. He further revealed, “We are also setting up an electric lane for electric trucks along the Delhi-Mumbai highway. The work has already started for this project. In a year, this project will be completed.”

The union minister said that this initiative will help reduce congestion and environmental pollution on highways. Moreover, the special electric lane would also reduce travel time between these two cities. He emphasised the need to embrace the London model where there are private operators who run electric buses in the city.

Commenting on ethanol, Gadkari said that rice straw too could be used for producing second-generation ethanol or bio-ethanol, which could be mixed with petrol, thereby, reducing fuel costs in India. Meanwhile, he also believes it will be a solution for cities like Delhi which are hit by smog—created from burning of stubble in Haryana-UP-Punjab.

He further stated that large auto mobile manufacturing companies such as Volvo, Mercedes and Audi have already made flexible-fuel engines that can run both on conventional fuel and ethanol. “When a consumer goes to a petrol pump they can pick their choice of fuel depending on the price. We are working towards making this happen,” Gadkari said.

In November, the Oil ministry had launched a draft bio-ethanol policy that aimed at production of bio-ethanol from cellulosic biomass as against the conventional approach of molasses-based ethanol production. The draft policy mentions the need to encourage the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) which aims at blending 20 per cent ethanol in petrol by 2030. He also added that in the upcoming Parliamentary session, a policy on methanol blending will be presented which calls for 15 per cent blending of methanol in petrol.

To make route connectivity more smooth and congestion-free, Gadkari stated that several projects including Sagarmala and Bharatmala will be critical. “The ministry aims to improve road, rail and port connectivity with development of ports along rivers and coasts being first priority,” added Gadkari. Through port connectivity, Gadkari believes logistic costs will come down to 12 per cent from 18 per cent. Moreover, keeping national interest in mind, the focus will be more on promoting waterways and coastal transport, then railways and then roadways, because transportation costs are lowest when transported by sea.  Then comes river transport, followed by rail transport. Road transport, which today accounts for 60 per cent of total cargo movement is India, is the most expensive mode of transport. This must be redressed by focusing on water-based transport solutions.

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