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Rice stubble based Rs 2500 crore projects to yield cleaner fuel

According to reports, rice stubble, a cause of air pollution due to open field burning, is set to catalyze investment of Rs 2400 crore in a string of biomass based energy projects and ethanol manufacturing facilities in Haryana and Punjab. While domestic oil marketing companies, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited, are setting up bio-ethanol manufacturing facilities in Punjab and Haryana respectively, Germany based, bio fuel firm Verbio AG has proposed $ 15 million investment to set up bio- CNG manufacturing plant in Haryana.

The menace of burning of paddy stubble in fields is major cause of smog in winters in North. Due to ease and notion that it improves fertility, famers resort to open field burning of paddy stubble in months of October and November in paddy growing areas.

The agrarian states are adopting multi-fold strategies to make use of paddy residue including power generation, production of ethanol and mulching in farms. In Punjab paddy stubble based power projects of capacity 180 MW have been allotted to firms that are scheduled to be operation by 2018. A prevailing lucrative tariff of over Rs 8.16 per unit has enticed investors to set up such projects in paddy growing districts in Punjab.

“The tariff for biomass energy also includes a variable component that takes care of rise in cost of fuel,” says director Punjab Energy Development Agency, Balour Singh. The Power Purchase Agreements with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited are valid for 20 years from the date of commissioning of the plant, he added.

In Haryana biomass based power projects of capacity 50 MW are to be approved shortly to be set up in districts of Karnal Kurukshetra, Ambala, Kethal, Jind and Fatehabad.

“The cost of projects is comparable with coal based projects and is around Rs 5.5 crore per MW,” a senior official of Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) told ET.

To make cleaner fuel from paddy residue, Pune based Praj Industries has signed agreement with oil marketing companies to provide indigenous technology to produce second-generation bio-ethanol from paddy stubble. Praj industries has already inked agreement with Indian Oil Corporation Limited for such a facility at later’s Panipat refinery and another in Gujarat. The Panipat plant will produce 3.2 crore liters of ethanol per year.

Also the Punjab government’s department of Investment Promotion have signed an MoU for Rs 600 crore second generation ethanol Bio-refinery of 100 KL/day capacity in Bhatinda, Punjab. The plant will be set up by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and also have capacity of 3.2 crore litres of ethanol.

Germany based Verbio AG has approach Haryana government to invest $ 15 million to set up bio-CNG from paddy residue in the state, officials in HAREDA told ET.

To propagate non-combustion disposable of paddy residue, governments in Punjab and Haryana are propagating use of agriculture implements like rotavators and happy seeders to mix paddy straw in soil by subsidizing price of such machines.

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