Not at the cost of food security -Siraj Hussain & Ajit Ranade

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published Published on May 6, 2020   modified Modified on May 6, 2020

-The Indian Express

Diverting rice to produce ethanol during the pandemic is unethical. Surplus grains should be used to feed those in distress.

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and a country-wide lockdown came an announcement that was difficult to believe. The press release said the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) chaired by the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas has decided to use “surplus” rice available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for conversion to ethanol. This is ostensibly for making alcohol-based hand-sanitisers and for the blending of ethanol with petrol. This decision is not only audacious but also an affront to the millions of people who are deeply affected by food insecurity.

The images of exhausted migrants with their families trudging back from cities to villages are still vivid. Some have died on the way for the want of food and water. Distribution of food rations and cooked food is still far from adequate. The urgent priority is to transfer grain from godowns to ration shops and NGOs helping in food packet distribution — certainly not diverting rice to ethanol producers.

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The Indian Express, 6 May, 2020,

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