New Delhi - The NITI Aayog has said it was working on a roadmap for full-scale implementation of methanol economy in the country in near future, which would not only curb pollution, but reduce India's dependence on oil imports as well.
On the World Environment Day, the government think-tank said it had already drawn out a comprehensive plan to replace 20% of crude imports using methanol alone, adding that adopting methanol in such a scale would bring down pollution in the country by more than 40%.
"Over a period of time, diesel can completely be done away with," the NITI Aayog said in a statement.
It said that Indian Railways alone burns three billion litres of diesel every year and plans were in place to convert 6,000 diesel engines to work on 100% methanol and make railways a carbon neutral organisation.
It said efforts were also on to substitute oil with methanol in the marine sector and energy sector.
"India by adopting methanol can have its own indigenous fuel at the cost of approximately Rs 19 per litre, at least 30% cheaper than any available fuel.
"Methanol fuel can result in great environmental benefits and can be the answer to the burning urban pollution issue. At least 20 per cent diesel consumption can be reduced in next five to seven years and will result in a savings of Rs 26,000 crore annually," the NITI Aayog said.
It added that Rs 6000 crore can be annually saved from reduced bill in LPG in the next three years itself.
"The Methanol blending program with petrol will further reduce our fuel bill by at least Rs 5,000 crore annually in next three years," it said.
Methanol is a scalable and sustainable fuel that can be produced from a variety of feedstocks like natural gas, coal, bio-mass, municipal solid waste and even carbon dioxide.
The concept of methanol economy is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many European countries. 10 per cent of fuel in China in transport sector is methanol, the NITI Aayog statement said.
Field trials are under way for India to adopt 15% blending of methanol in transportation sector.