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Karnataka to allow use of sweet beet molasses in distilleries

BS Reporter  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

The Karnataka government has rejected the proposal of the distilleries in the state to use foodgrains to manufacture liquor. Instead, their proposal to use beetroot-based molasses to produce liquor has been approved.

“A variety of beetroot contains a high amount of sugar and it’s proven to be a good source for manufacturing molasses which can be an alternative to regular sugarcane molasses. We have formed a team of technical experts to study the proposal and submit the report,” M P Renukacharya, minister for excise, government of Karnataka, told reporters.

He said the beetroot crop can be raised twice a year with requires much lesser water compared to the sugarcane which requires a lot of water and fertiliser. It would be beneficial to farmers in growing this crop and supplying it to distilleries. However, the variety of beetroot used to produce molasses cannot be consumed as a vegetable.

“In the western countries the beetroot sugar is most popular among distilleries and we are trying to import this variety for cultivation in our state,” the minister said.

The request for using foodgrains by the distilleries was rejected as it may result in a shortage of foodgrains for human consumption, he said.

Renukacharya said the department has been given a target to achieve a 20 per cent increase in the collection of excise revenues during the present fiscal at Rs 11,300 crore. For the present fiscal, the government had set a target of Rs 9,200 crore, a growth of 10.6 per cent over last fiscal. Last year, the department collected Rs 8,315 crore, showing a growth of 18.7 per cent over the previous year.

During the month of April 2011, the department mobilised Rs 736 crore, showing a growth of 15.7 per cent over the corresponding period of last financial year.

In order to achieve this target, the department is taking measures to control the movement of cheap liquor from the neighbouring states of Goa and Andhra Pradesh apart from controlling the menace of illicit liquor in the state, he said.

The minister said the government would spend Rs 100 crore this year for modernising the excise department. About 500 pistols will be purchased for excise inspectors this year among other things, he added.

First Published: Thu, May 12 2011. 00:09 IST