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In the wake of the firming international crude prices, the union government is pushing for greater usage of biofuels claim industry sources. They draw attention to a statement by Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari to use biofuels in order to reduce India’s annual oil import bill of Rupees-seven lakh crore. The minister put the onus on local automakers to make vehicles that can run on fossil-fuel substitutes. The minister’s exhortation came a day after the GST Council recommended a reduction in the levy on biofuels, down from 18 per cent to 12 per cent. The move to reduce the levy on bio-fuels, claim sources, will help the farm sector and save the money used to import crude oil. With India importing more than four-fifths of its crude oil needs, Gadkari’s push for bio-fuel comes less than six months after petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan made an announcement that Indian scientists were working to develop a new model of biofuels’ use through the application of indigenous technology. Under the government’s Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme, state-run oil marketers sell ethanol blended petrol with the percentage of ethanol up to 10 per cent. Ethanol production through molasses in the country was an estimated 220 crore litres in FY2016-17.

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