New Delhi– Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday urged the public sector undertakings to create start-up funds, as is being done by Indian private players, in order to promote innovation and nurture new ideas in the energy sector.

“I am advising my CEO friends in PSUs that if Ratan Tata can put his private funds for start-ups and if Narayana Murthy can do that for new start-ups, then why cannot you,” Pradhan said addressing a conference on methanol organised by the NITI Aayog.

Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

“ONGC has already offered Rs 100 crore for start-ups. Can we create a synergy in innovation and this kind of start-up fund. This can be a win win situation for all of us. Let us create a platform for our young Indians and scientific brains,” he said.

On the occasion of its diamond jubilee this year, state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) last month announced the launch of a Rs 100 crore start-up fund to incubate and foster new ideas for oil and gas sector development.

As part of the initiative called ‘ONGC Start-up’, the company will provide the entire support chain for start-ups including seed capital, hand-holding, mentoring market linkage and follow-ups.

According to Pradhan, an economy based on a clean fuel like methanol can create a lot of employment and entrepreneurship.

“The raw material (for methanol) should be coming from the Indian market. If we could monetise the agriculture waste and bio waste in urban areas to energy then there will be two benefits – sizeable reduction of health expenditure and our economy can be multi-fold,” he said.

“How do we reduce our import dependency. My ministry is ready to offer Rs 1 lakh crore business to scientific community. Now India is importing Rs 4.5 lakh crore worth of hydrocarbons. Technology is there. Blending of 85 per cent of ethanol in transportation fuel is possible,” he said.

In this connection, he noted that petroleum consumption is increasing in the country.

“Last financial year, where the prediction of petroleum consumption was 7-8 per cent, the actual growth was 11 per cent. Petroleum need is growing in a bigger way. Rural India is emerging in a big way. Petrol consumption is increasing in hinterland of the country,” he said.

On the occasion, NITI Aayog signed a Statement of Intent with the US Methanol Institute to work further on the technology.

NITI Aayog has set up an expert group to develop a roadmap for India to adopt the ‘Methanol Economy’ and this will explore various techno-commercial angles to enhance production of methanol through natural gas, high ash content coal and through bio, agri and municipal solid waste.

It will also draw out a technical roadmap to adopt both methanol and dimethyl ether (DME) as chemical feedstock and for power generation. (IANS)