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CoronaVirus - National - Politics - April 22, 2020

Coronavirus: Is India doing the right thing to utilize surplus rice for producing hand sanitizers?

India’s poor are sleeping in hunger, and the Center decides on Monday to convert the surplus rice into Ethanol to produce hand-sanitizers. According to experts, the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) foodgrain stocks stood at 77.6 (mt) in March 2020, Indian Express reported.

Rahul Gandhi slams the Government on tweeter in Hindi, saying,” When will the poor in India wake up? You’re dying of hunger and the Government is busy making sanitizers to wash rich people’s hands.”

In the first week of April, the Government allowed Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and charitable organizations to directly buy wheat and rice from the Food Corporation India (FCI) godowns and feed the poor amid nationwide lockdown, Economic Times reported.

The Union Ministry made provision for extra food supply to the poor, but free grain under the Public Distribution System is only accessible to people who have a ration card. The Truth of the matter is that millions of poor people in India do not have a ration card; therefore, they cannot avail these facilities, NDTV reported.

On April 20, National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) and Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan in a meeting agreed to utilize the surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) to produce Ethanol and use it for making Alcohol-based-hand sanitizers and Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP), PIB press release stated.

However, a question arises in the minds of critics and economic experts that when the entire nation is battling coronavirus and socio-economic crisis, what’s the urgency to convert surplus rice into Ethanol?

When the Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was asked regarding the announcement of the utilization of surplus rice for making hand sanitizers amid millions are on the verge starvation, he said that only a ‘small portion’ of excess foodgrains stock would be converted into Ethanol, NDTV reported.

Article Credit: Economic Times/ PIB India/ Indian Express/ NDTV News/ Indian Express

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