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Govt approves plan to convert FCI's surplus rice into ethanol

The government on Monday approved that surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) can be converted into ethanol in order to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitisers and also for blending with petrol. The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC).

"A meeting of NBCC was held today under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, wherein it was approved that the surplus rice available with FCI may be converted to ethanol for utilisation in making alcohol-based hand-sanitisers and in blending for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme," the petroleum ministry said in a statement.

National Policy on Biofuels, 2018 envisages that during an agriculture crop year when there is projected over supply of food grains, the policy will allow conversion of these surplus quantities of food grains to ethanol, based on the approval of NBCC, it added.

Recently, the government allowed sugar companies and distilleries to make hand sanitisers using ethanol. Sugar companies supply ethanol to oil marketing companies for blending with petrol.

Sugar industry body had said last week said that a majority of sugar companies decided to make hand sanitisers to supply to hospitals and institutions by using a part of the ethanol/ENA production.

"Some of them are supplying the sanitisers at cost price or even free of cost. With the State Excise department and State Drug Controllers giving full cooperation, this new segment of production of hand sanitisers has been successfully launched very quickly by most of the sugar companies," ISMA added.

According to an official data, the government has a total of 58.49 million tonne of foodgrains in the FCI godowns.

Out of this, rice is 30.97 million tonnes and wheat 27.52 million tonnes.

The foodgrains stock is much higher than the required norm of maintaining a reserve of about 21 million tonnes as on April 1.

Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the government is supplying 5 kg of foodgrains per month to over 80 crore people at a highly subsidised price of Rs 2-3 per kg.

That apart, the Centre has decided to distribute 5 kg of food grains per person free of cost for the next three months to provide relief to poor people during the ongoing lockdown period.


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