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Context: As per the Ministry of Road and Highways, making bitumen from agricultural waste such as rice husk can help save up to ₹30,000 crores annually in import bills.

Major Highlights

  • India requires around 80 lakh tonnes of bitumen annually for roads. Of this, around 50 lakh tonnes are provided by domestic refineries for processing crude oil, and around 25-30 lakh tonnes are imported costing around 25,000-30,000 crore.  
  • Recently, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) have developed technology to make bitumen from rice husk, which is supposed to be better than bitumen extracted from crude oil.
    • This makes 70% bitumen and the rest is biochar or organic carbon. Organic char can enhance farm productivity. 
  • The Ministry envisions opening up to 1,000 such units in rural India to produce bio-bitumen and completely do away with the burning of husk or agri-waste which leads to pollution. It would benefit the farmers in states such as Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.


  • Bitumen is a dense, highly viscous, petroleum-based hydrocarbon produced during the refining process or distillation of crude oil. Bitumen is known for its waterproofing and adhesive properties and is commonly used in the construction industry, notably for making roads and highways. 

Bio-bitumen would play a significant role as a road construction material to replace the fossil-based version while curbing CO2 emissions and boosting the bio-economy.

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