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NEW DELHI : Prime minister Narendra Modi has again hit out at opposition parties for offering freebies to voters, saying this would restrict India from becoming self-reliant and increase the burden on taxpayers.

Speaking at the launch of Indian Oil’s second-generation ethanol plant at Panipat refinery on Wednesday, Modi said that such announcements are driven by vested interests and prevent investments in new technologies.

“If there is selfishness in politics, then anyone can come and announce to give free petrol and diesel. Such steps will take away the rights of our children and prevent the country from becoming self-reliant. Due to such selfish policies, the burden on honest taxpayers of the country will also increase," he said.

Modi said if the government does not have money, then plants like ethanol, biogas and solar plants will also close down.

“Our youth will be most benefitted from the hundreds of km of gas pipelines we are laying down and the modern factories we are setting up. More green job opportunities will be created. These steps will not affect our future generations. This is the right kind of progress. This is the true commitment to progress," he said.

The prime minister has off late hit out at opposition-led states governments and opposition parties for announcing subsidies and freebies.

Last month, speaking at the inauguration of the Bundelkhand Expressway, he said that efforts are being made to bring in the culture of garnering votes by distributing freebies, which would be dangerous for the development of the country.

On 30 July, the prime minister again called out the culture of giving subsidies and asked states to clear dues totalling 2.5 trillion to power utilities.

The Union government’s expenses on subsidies have declined over the years. The union budget for FY23 has kept the overall estimate for spending on major subsidies on fertilizer, food, and petroleum lower than what was actually spent in the last fiscal, according to the revised estimates for the FY22 budget.

In the case of overall fertilizer subsidy allocation, there is a 25% reduction in the budget estimate for FY23 at 1 trillion, while food subsidy for FY23 is 28% lower at 2 trillion. Petroleum subsidy is 11% lower at 5,813 crore.

Speaking on the government’s efforts to boost ethanol blending, Modi said that due to the mixing of ethanol with petrol, in the last seven to eight years, foreign exchange worth 50,000 crore has been saved.

He said that till eight years ago, only 400 million litres of ethanol was produced in the country; now, this production is about 4 billion litres.

Addressing the programme, petroleum minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that select petrol pumps would start selling petrol mixed with 20% ethanol from April next year. Supplies will be ramped up gradually as part of the government’s plan to reduce oil import dependence and also address environmental issues. Puri said by 2025, ethanol will make up a fifth of a litre of petrol.

In his speech, the prime minister also stressed that LPG coverage in the country had reached nearly 100%. “There are about 310 million gas connections in the country today, increasing from 140 million," he said.

Modi also said that piped gas connections have also reached more than 10 million households.

“Today, when we are completing 75 years of independence, the country is also working on the goal that in the next few years, more than 75% of the households in the country will get piped gas,“ he said.

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