Mumbai: Union roads minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said the government will be soon announcing a policy which calls for 15% blending of methanol in petrol to make it cheaper and also reduce pollution.

“In the upcoming parliament session, I am announcing a policy of blending 15% methanol in petrol," Gadkari said at an event organised by Moneycontrol and Free Press Journal in Mumbai. He said methanol gets made from coal and costs only Rs22 per litre as against the prevailing price of about Rs80 per litre for petrol and added that China is making the coal byproduct for Rs17 per litre itself.

“The costs will go down, pollution will go down," the union minister said. He said factories in and around Mumbai, including Deepak Fertilisers and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers (RCF), can generate methanol. Gadkari said Swedish auto major Volvo has got a special engine to the financial capital which runs on methanol and using the locally available methanol, it will be attempting to run 25 buses entirely on the fuel.

The union minister said ethanol should also be used more widely and said that he has suggested his cabinet colleague in-charge of the petroleum ministry to look at this rather than building petrol refineries that cost over Rs70,000 crore. Gadkari said the total investment opportunity on ethanol alone is Rs1.50 trillion.

He reiterated his concerns on the traffic growth because of a 22% rise in car sales annually and expressed a desire to focus less on roads because of this. On the road works, he said the government has reached 28km per day and plans to accelerate this further to 40km soon.

In financial year 2017-18, it will increase the total number of road projects awarding to 20,000km from the year ago’s 16,000km, he said, adding that Rs7 trillion worth projects have been awarded by his ministry since he took charge in 2014. Gadkari expressed concern over the speed of projects under the defence ministry-led Borders Roads Organisation (BRO) and added that his ministry has started the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) for the same.

The newly formed company will be undertaking works worth Rs1.5 trillion in strategically important locations like north-east India, he said. The government is targeting to increase the total amount of works awarded by the NHIDCL to 3,000km in FY18, up from 800km in FY17, he said.

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