Ladies and gentlemen from different sections of the society who have gathered here; friends,
The month of August brings purity and an environment of resolutions. This month is for commemorating revolution and the freedom fighters who had laid down their lives for the country. This month marks the celebration of not only Independence Day but also other festivals that enrich our social and cultural lives. My best wishes to you all for the upcoming festivals.
Protection of environment occupies a very high place in our traditions, culture and festivals. Today's programme is also associated with environment and modern traditions. My best wishes to you all on World Biofuel Day.
The government has been making relentless efforts to improve the standard of living of the 125 crore Indians and formulating innumerable schemes for this. Strengthening the rural economy, doubling the farmers' income, providing alternatives to petrol, diesel and gas and making the environment safe are some of the priorities of the government. Biofuel will play a crucial role in accomplishing these goals. Biofuel has the power to create a balance between our environment and economic development.
Biofuel is not just science but also a Mantra that will provide a new energy to not only India but also the entire world. Biofuel means the fuel that is produced from crops, crop-residue and garbage and left-overs. It is going to transform and improve the quality of life of the people in both rural and urban areas. An old saying was reinforced in the film that was shown today -'Aam ke aam aur guthali ke Daam' that means double utilization or complete utilization of a thing. It's a very old saying. It is a modern application in a way.
More and more use of biofuels will help increase the incomes of the farmers, open up new opportunity of employment, will save the country's wealth and will also prove to be a boon for the environment.
It is a part of our grand vision according to which our path to cleanliness, health and empowerment of the villages and poor farmers will be strengthened. Besides, it is also associated with our modern model of Urban Development. Biofuel among the plethora of green initiatives will immensely help in reducing the air pollution in cities.
Today farmer brothers and sisters have gathered here in large numbers. The presence of the farmers in Vigyan Bhawan in itself is a strong message. Different parts of our country experience different rainfall patterns. Some regions are flooded with rainfall while others wait for rains. We are constantly watching that news. At one place we feel ecstatic due to sufficient rainfall, while we are also troubled with the same rainfall in yet another region.
This is all the more significant for my farmer brothers and sisters. I believe that paddy along with other kharif crops have already been sown in almost all parts of the country. You are already aware of the fact that the government has set the MSP of 14 kharif crops at 1.5 times of their cost. Whenever we talk of agriculture, we tend to refer to M.S Swaminathan ji. Two or three days back, Swaminathan ji had written an article in which he had extensively described about the transformation in the agricultural sector, the initiatives taken by the government, and the government policies. He is an authority. He has elaborately described and appreciated the plans, the schemes, the policies and the efforts of the government towards the farmers.
You too have seen for yourselves in the movie that an MSP has been set for sugarcane too along with the Kharif crops so that the farmer's get 80% more benefits on their cost of cultivation. In this season, the MSP on sugarcane has been increased by Rs.20 to Rs.275 per quintal. The farmers are going to highly benefit out of this increased value. Besides, the farmers are bound to benefit from the government's efforts towards helping to produce ethanol from sugarcane.
This idea of producing ethanol from sugarcane had started during Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji's governance. However, the schemes languished just like the condition of the government that was in power in the previous decade. This effort was not taken seriously. When the Bharatiya Janta Party formed the government again with NDA in 2014, a proper roadmap was chalked out. The Ethanol blending programme was started. Today, these schemes are in smooth operation in 25 states and Union Territories. There has been a record production of ethanol in the last four years and the country is moving in the direction of producing about 450 crore litres of ethanol in the coming four years.
Ethanol has not only helped the farmers but has also saved the country's wealth. Last year, ethanol blending of petrol has saved about Rs.4000 crores in foreign exchange that would have been spent on imports.
The target of the government is to increase this savings to Rs.12000 crores in the next four years. Moreover, in the next four years we can make Rs.20000 crores just by producing ethanol from sugarcane. With this saving and an alternative to sugarcane, the sugarcane farmers will be ensured of a permanent solution to their recurrent problems. Ethanol is saving money. Besides, it will also reduce the toxic gases that generate from petrol.
Targets related to biofuel are being set. This means that it's not a wishful thinking. Robust policies, laws and strategies are being prepared, responsibility and accountability are being fixed and regular monitoring is being done to achieve the said target. The government has formulated a National Policy to develop all forms of biofuel including ethanol. The government is working towards developing the capacity of blending ethanol with petrol up to at least 10% by 2022 and at least 20% by 2030.
Biofuel will not only provide an alternative to the sugarcane farmers but also benefit the other farmers of the country. Often, our harvested crops like wheat, rice, maize, potatoes and vegetables perish due to bad weather or lack of storage facilities. Naturally the farmers would then have to dump those damaged crops. However, we have decided to use even that for producing ethanol.
There is another issue before the farmers. The farmers are unable to sell their crops because sometimes the crops are not up to the required standards with stains, shorter size, etc. as a result of the weather conditions. The consumers are not willing to purchase such crops. The shopkeepers don't purchase such crops. Thus, the farmers have to bear the brunt of unfavourable weather conditions. However, ethanol can be produced from such crops that are not up to the required standards for direct consumption like shorter than the optimum size, broken, discoloured etc. When we frame a systematic policy, trust me, not a single grain produced by the farmers will go waste. You can imagine the type of strength that the farmers will gain.
Under the National Policy, a nationwide scheme is being formulated to transform not only the domestic waste but also the farm waste and dung of animals into fuel. Even the banana peels that are generated not only from every household but also from farms will be used as a potential fuel in the near future.
Besides, ethanol can be produced also from grass and bamboo. Bamboo is grown especially in the Northeast and tribal areas. In such a scenario, this will be a major step in shaping their economy that will benefit the bamboo growers.
Crop residue or stubble is a major problem for the farmers. However, crop residue is a valuable natural resource but we burn this essential herb due to lack of awareness. This is a valuable herb that helps to nourish the land but we burn that in front of our eyes with our hands. I have been noticing that it is a regular phenomenon for the farmers of Punjab and Haryana. This is a serious challenge.
I time and again tell my farmer brothers that burning crop stubble leads to a decline in the fertility of soil and the smoke released causes air pollution degrading the quality of the environment. Therefore, the work on the possibility of producing ethanol from the crop stubble is going on at a massive scale. This means crop stubble will also be a medium of income. It will not only curtail air pollution but will also help in increasing the income levels of the farmers.
The government is investing on a large scale to transform biomass into biofuel. There is a plan to set up 12 modern refineries across the country at the cost of Rs.10 thousand crores. One refinery will employ about 1000-1500 people. This means, 1.5 lakh people will get employed from the operation to the supply chain of the refineries. Besides, the scheme of generating fuel from cow dung is also progressing at a rapid pace.
You must have seen that we had launched a scheme called 'Gobardhan Yojana' in the previous budget. Under the Gobardhan Yojana, one biogas plant is being set up in every district across the country. Currently, 700 plants are being established but it will be further extended in the future. All the farmers and the Self Help Groups are being associated with it.
Fresh possibilities of income for the poor, the farmers and the tribals are being generated with the help of schemes like Gobardhan, Van Dhan and Jan Dhan. We are working towards ensuring that there is a proper utilization of not only your crops but also of animal dung, crop residue, domestic waste and everything else.
Besides, you can have additional income from the plants and fruits grown in forests. During autumn season you must have noticed that leaves fall and pile up to a height of 1 or 2 feet. This can also be a medium of income. This is the 'waste to wealth' campaign. It is also giving impetus to the Swachh Bharat Mission because this waste is also the reason of filth.
There is a significant contribution of our scientists and youngsters with start-ups to ease the techniques in this campaign. On this occasion I would like to offer my gratitude to you all. You are ceaselessly making efforts to improve this technique but there is still a lot of scope in this field. For example, it is important to look for crops with bumper production that can produce better quality and higher quantity of biofuels. For this to happen, the entrepreneurs with new startups and people with new technology need to tie up.
I believe that the course on biofuels should be prioritized in our engineering colleges, IITs and polytechnic colleges. Moreover, more and more knowledge regarding biofuels should reach the farmers through Krishi Vikas Kendras i.e. KVKs. Awareness should be created among the farmers by keeping the central theme of Biofuels in agricultural fairs across the country.
One of the greatest issues related to cleanliness in cities is solid waste management. The government is working towards improving the technology of producing energy from myriad things like sewer water and Industrial waste water. Once I had read a news article about a tea-seller in a small town; he used to sell tea near a small drain. Usually my attention is easily drawn towards anything related to tea. So, he got an idea. Naturally, gas emanates from a polluted drain resulting in a foul smell. Therefore, he inserted a pipeline through a hole carved out in an inverted utensil. The gas that was emanating from the gutter was channeled to his tea-stall with the help of the pipeline. He used that gas for making tea. It is a simple technology.
Once I was in Gujarat and a scooter was moving in front of our convoy. The person on the scooter was carrying a huge tractor tube. It was completely filled with air. You can imagine that if a person carries such a huge tractor tube on a scooter, the vehicles coming from behind will be scared of collision and accident. Even I was astonished. Normally a person would carry an empty tube and fill it with air later. So I asked him to halt.
We got down from the car and asked the person on scooter that what he was doing and why was he carrying the tube like that. He could have been injured. He said that he was going to his field. I asked him the purpose. So he said that with the household waste and cattle dung of his animals he had set up a biogas plant in his house. He fills the tube with that gas and carries it to his field. That gas is used to run his water pump in his field. Just think about the capability of our country's farmers! Today even our farmers and villagers do innovative experiments.
I would like to urge the people with start-ups to tap this idea. Sometimes we don't find great ideas even in big colleges that we get from the country's farmers. We want to carry this forward by collating everything.
Today we are working on a massive scheme of B-3. B-3 means Biomass, Biofuel and Bioenergy. In addition to ethanol, work is underway at a rapid pace to produce bio-CNG from garbage. CNG is being promoted in the country's transport system so as to avoid pollution from petrol and Diesel. At present, we are importing CNG from abroad. We are trying to reduce our dependence on imports. Till date, more than 175 plants have been set up in the country. That day is not far when CNG vehicles will be a reality in not only all cities but also in villages.
Today things like plastic waste, old rubber tyres etc. are the cause of concern. These things are now being used in construction of roads. Research is underway to find ways to use domestic waste in the construction of roads.
I just watched the work of poor people of one of the African countries on social media. They collect all the plastic waste from their village and carry them to the river bed. Then they burn and melt the plastic and mix that with the sand of the river bed. They make blocks out of it and sell at a large scale. Women Self Help Groups are engaged in this work. They are not only cleaning the garbage but also making new products out of it and selling in the market.
The government is working towards creating a balance between the environment and development. When we talk of balancing the environment with development, electricity plays a crucial role. The generation and utilization of electricity has a direct impact on the environment.
Today we are emphasizing upon a plethora of other sources of energy including solar energy along with the conventional sources of energy like coal and natural gas to generate electricity. We are promoting solar energy not only in India but in the entire world with the help of International Solar Alliance.
Today the use of solar energy is increasing at an unprecedented rate in the form of solar pumps in agriculture to industries and offices. Besides, the use of LED lights in households and offices is saving electricity. I am glad that the country's railway stations now glitter with LED lights. They have completed their work. Now the aim is to install LED bulbs in every building of the railway and railway quarters in future. We are promoting LED lights. Environmental concerns are associated with Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat Mission.
Smoke-free kitchens are also part of this broad vision. Today I congratulate the 5 crore poor families, the mothers and the sisters who have been liberated from smoke.
It is a wonder that such work has been completed in such a short span of time in India. We have 125 crore Indians and about 25-26 crore families in our country. Out of these 25-26 crore families, 5 crore families have received gas connections in such a short span of time. You can see for yourself when work is progressing at such a rapid pace, results are bound to show.
Today the farmers, the technicians and the government officials together will be deleberating upon biofuel and its challenges throughout the day. You will be discussing about the daily practical problems of the farmers. I am sure that we will get many suggestions about the energy requirements of the 125 crore Indians and making agriculture profitable.
The revolutionary changes by biofuel can never be brought merely by the efforts of the government; but we need to create a mass movement through public participation by involving students, teachers, scientists and industrialists.
I wish to urge the representatives of the states who are present here, to make efforts at individual levels to deliver the benefits of biofuel in every village. The world is celebrating Biofuel Day today. India has taken several initiatives in the field of biofuel and is capable of assuring the world in addressing the concern of global warming. These steps taken by India are being appreciated all over the world today.
The world is closely watching India's plans and policies and today's efforts will instill new energy, will provide a new direction and will accelerate the progress. I congratulate you all from the bottom of my heart for this successful plan.