Balrampur Chini Mills (BCML), which is betting big on digitisation and automation to increase efficiency leading to “safer and more profitable operations”, is expecting a good growth in turnover on the back of higher cane crushing and ethanol production this year. The company, which had crushed 93.66 lakh tonnes of cane in 2022-23, is expecting around 10 per cent increase in crushing this season.

Kolkata-headquartered BCML is looking to invest close to ₹1,00 crore this fiscal on expanding its unit at Kumbhi in Uttar Pradesh to scale up capacity to 10,000 tonnes of cane per day (TCD) from the current 8,000 TCD.

According to Vivek Saraogi, Chairman and Managing Director, Balrampur Chini, the company had spent close to ₹1,000 crore during the last financial year on enhancing production and a significant portion of the capex went on automation and enhancing safety in operations at two of its units thereby leading to higher efficiency and more consistency in cane crushing.

“We are working a lot on the cane front on (ensuring) variety, disease protection, bringing in best farm practices across the board to ensure this goes down to farmer so that his yield and profitability increases. Increase in yield means higher supply (to me) and if the cane is well looked after then higher recovery….. so basically it is a win-win situation,” Saraogi told businessline.

While it is still too early to comment on total sugar production during this year, the country’s sugar production is likely to be close to 32-34 million during the current season 2023-24, almost similar to last years’ levels, he said.

Ramping up ethanol production

Balrampur Chini, which has a distillery capacity of close to 1,050 kilo litres per day, accounts for about five per cent of the country’s total ethanol production and more than 30 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s production.

It supplied 17.09 crores litres of ethanol in FY23. Post expansion of capacity and higher contracting with OMCs, supply of ethanol is likely to increase further.

“We have been the largest supplier of domestic ethanol in the country and we hope to continue to be so. We have capabilities to produce 35 crore litres of ethanol every season we hope to supply over 30 crore litres to ethanol programme next year,” he said.

Distillery segment accounted for nearly 21 per cent of the company’s total turnover, which stood at ₹4,666 crore as on March 31, 2023. Going forward, distillery segment is expected to contribute around 35 per cent of the company’s overall revenues.

Sustainable operations

BCML, Saraogi said, has successfully achieved zero ground water extraction in few of its units and has enhanced green cover through extensive plantations. The company has planted around 2,50,000 trees in three years and intends to plant 10,00,000 trees in the next five years.

The company’s non-hazardous waste decreased by nearly 10 per cent while water effluents emission reduced by 24 per cent during the last five years. This apart, the company’s captive consumption of renewable energy, as a percentage of the total power generated, increased, reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.