Govt allows cane juice, B molasses to make ethanol, caps sugar diversion at 17 lakh tonnes

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New Delhi: The Central government on Friday allowed sugar mills to use both cane juice and B-heavy molasses for ethanol production. However, it imposed a limit on the diversion of sugar for this purpose, setting it at 17 lakh tonnes for the current supply year of 2023-24.

The decision comes a week after the government prohibited the use of sugarcane juice and sugar syrup for ethanol production. This decision came in response to industry appeals for a reversal of the earlier directive.

17 lakh tonnes of diversion of sugar for making ethanol 

“The flexibility has been given to sugar mills for using both sugarcane juice and B-heavy within an overall cap of 17 lakh tonnes of diversion of sugar for making ethanol in the ongoing 2023-24 supply year (November-October),” Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra told news agency PTI.

He said that a committee of ministers took the decision during its meeting on Friday. 

The decision to allow sugar mills to use both cane juice and B-heavy molasses for ethanol production comes in response to industry representations seeking a review of the December 7 order. This earlier order had banned the immediate use of cane juice and sugar syrup for ethanol production. It, however, had allowed the supply of ethanol from existing offers received by Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) from B-heavy molasses.

“We are working on modalities to decide on the proportion of cane juice and B-heavy molasses to be used for making ethanol,” Chopra said, adding that already some quantity of ethanol has been produced using cane juice in the current supply year.

6 lakh tonne of ethanol produced using cane juice

Another food ministry official said about 6 lakh tonne of ethanol has already been produced using cane juice before the government issued the December 7 order.

The government has estimated sugar production to decline to 32.3-33 million tonne in the 2023-24 season (October-September), as against 37.3 million tonnes in the previous season. “We were anticipating cane production to be low but didn’t anticipate it to go down further. The recent rain has brought the recovery per cent further down. The drought in Maharashtra and Karnataka is worrying,” Chopra had said recently.

(With PTI inputs)

Also Read: Government directs sugar mills to not use sugarcane juice for ethanol production | Here’s why

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