Railways goes slow on Biodiesel blending due to price fluctuations

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has gone slow on bio-diesel blending due to fluctuating prices, according to the Railway Convention Committee (RCC) report, tabled in Parliament recently.

According to the Chairman of the Railway Board, earlier, the thinking was that by blending bio-diesel, the overall cost of energy or fuel will go down, which has not happened, the RCC stated in its report:

As per a decision taken in 2015, the Railways said it would blend 5 per cent bio-diesel with the conventional normal high-speed diesel (HSD) in their consumer depots with a view to saving fossil fuel and precious foreign exchange substantially.

The Indian Railways consumes over two billion litres of diesel every year, for which it has to foot a bill of over ₹15,000 crore annually, it had said.

However, the RCC in its report, found that of the total 300 Railway Consumer Depots (RCDs), blending facility was provided in only 48, and such facility was proposed to be provided in 80 more during 2017-18.

The committee called for blending of bio-diesel in the remaining 252 RCDs from the environment point of view to save fossil fuel, the quantum of savings of energy bill notwithstanding.

The committee noted that because of the limited availability of bio-diesel and volatile nature of its prices, the speed of blending had suffered a setback.

The Railways proposes to set up two bio-diesel manufacturing plants at Tondiarpet (Chennai) and Raipur (Chhattisgarh).

The RCC has, therefore, asked the Ministry to expedite the finalisation of the Raipur plant contract, besides exploring the feasibility of setting up similar plants at other places so that basic constraints are tackled and bio-diesel blending progresses as per the plan.