Why in news?
It was approved in a meeting of NBCC on 20th April that the surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) may be converted to ethanol for utilization in making alcohol-based hand-sanitizers and in blending for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme.
Is this allowed?
National Policy on Biofuels, 2018 under Para 5.3 inter-alia envisages that during an agriculture crop year when there is projected over supply of food grains as anticipated by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, the policy will allow conversion of these surplus quantities of food grains to ethanol, based on the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC).
However, this move may be criticized on the grounds that people who do not have ration cards can be given rice under the Food Security Act rather than converting the rice into a biofuel or spirit at a time when food security is noted as top priority by WHO.
Details and more information
- This is the first time a food grain is being used for making spirit in the country for blending with petrol and manufacturing hand sanitizers that are highly in demand these days due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- Ethyl Alcohol is also known as ethanol and is a by-product of the sugar industry.
- The other option which is more suitable is isopropyl alcohol which is used by manufacturers of hand sanitizers as the base for their product.
- The annual requirement of Hand Sanitizers in India is estimated at roughly 10 crore litres.
- It is estimated that the sugar industry has manufactured about 8 lakh litres of ethanol in response to the demand increase from sanitizer manufacturers.