The plans to make ethanol out of rice grown in Chhattisgarh, generally known as the rice bowl of India, are hanging hearth. Regardless of making massive bulletins and the state authorities signing contracts value hundreds of thousands of rupees, no headway has been made within the proposed programme that plans to make use of ‘surplus’ rice produced within the state to make ethanol, a biofuel.
Final yr, between September and December, the Chhattisgarh authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with buyers to the tune of Rs 11,620 million so as to produce ethanol out of 600,000 metric tonnes of rice. It was estimated that roughly 890 kilolitres of ethanol per day can be manufactured within the state.
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Nonetheless, virtually a yr later not a lot progress has been made because the matter is caught between the state authorities and the central authorities’s Meals Company of India (FCI). Even the method of finalising the placement of the manufacturing models has not been accomplished.
“We all the time have surplus paddy, way more than the procurement goal the central authorities units for us. So, we requested the central authorities to permit us to make ethanol out of the excess rice,” Manoj Soni, particular secretary, Meals Civil Provides and Client Safety Division, Chhattisgarh, instructed Gaon Connection.
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The central authorities, nonetheless, in response to Soni, insists the state buys the rice from FCI so as to make the ethanol.
Related issues are voiced by Sumit Sarkar, undertaking officer, Chhattisgarh Biofuel Improvement Authority. “Chattisgarh is encouraging the manufacturing of ethanol from rice. Our chief minister, Bhupesh Baghel, has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the central authorities about this,” mentioned Sarkar.
The Chhattisgarh chief minister has additionally met the Union meals minister and the petroleum minister, knowledgeable the undertaking officer. “However the central authorities insists that the excess rice at FCI needs to be used to begin manufacturing the ethanol. The state authorities desires permission to as an alternative utilise the excess rice within the state to do this,” Sarkar instructed Gaon Connection.
Bumper paddy crop, rice rotting in godowns and no ethanol manufacturing
Chhattisgarh is a number one producer of rice within the nation and when the central authorities accepted of producing ethanol from rice in 2018, it was anticipated that a number of ethanol-manufacturing models would spring up within the state.
The central authorities had stipulated that the state must purchase rice to make ethanol, a renewable biofuel constructed from biomass together with rice, maize and sugarcane. However the Chhattisgarh authorities wished to make ethanol from the massive surplus rice in its personal state. Due to this stalemate, the undertaking is but to take off whereas the ‘surplus’ rice is mendacity within the godowns within the state.
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In line with knowledge supplied by the state agriculture division, 12.7 million metric tonnes of rice is grown yearly within the state. Curiously, Chhattisgarh buys rice on the highest price within the nation. Whereas final yr the central authorities fastened Minimal Assist Worth (MSP) for rice was Rs 1,868 a quintal, in Chhattisgarh it was Rs 2,500 a quintal.
Within the final monetary yr 2020-21, the state authorities procured a file 9.2 million metric tonnes of rice. In 2019-20, it was 8.4 million metric tonnes and the yr earlier than, in 2018-19, the procurement was 8 million metric tonnes.
The central authorities continues to take solely 2.4 million metric tonnes of rice from Chhattisgarh. State authorities officers complain that hundreds of thousands of rupees value of grain is mendacity unused and rotting within the granaries of the state, which may very well be used to supply ethanol.
Manoj Soni, Particular secretary, Meals Civil Provides and Client Safety Division, Chhattisgarh, knowledgeable Gaon Connection that of the 9.2 million metric tonnes of paddy procured in 2020-21 by the state authorities, 7.6 million metric tonnes have been milled. Nonetheless, 1.5 million metric tonnes of harvested paddy have been nonetheless mendacity in godowns.
“Additionally, almost ten lakh metric tonnes of paddy that was procured at two thousand 5 hundred rupees a quintal, needed to be auctioned off at twelve hundred to 14 hundred rupees a quintal,” mentioned Soni. With over 1.5 million metric tonnes of paddy mendacity unsold, the state authorities believed that making ethanol out of it was an affordable method to make good the losses.
Plans, however solely on paper
In November 2018, plans started to be drawn up for the organising of ethanol crops in Chhattisgarh. The next yr, on August 13, 2019, the state cupboard declared that crops can be set as much as manufacture bio-ethanol from paddy, sugarcane, maize, millets, and so on. It was anticipated that inside six months the manufacturing processes can be in place. Nonetheless, that didn’t occur.
Final yr, between September and December, the state authorities signed MoUs with numerous buyers to supply ethanol out of 600,000 metric tonnes of rice. However not a drop of the biofuel has been generated underneath this plan up to now.
The scenario is paying homage to what occurred in 2006-07 within the state, then underneath the Bharatiya Janata Get together authorities. The state authorities had floated plans to supply biofuel out of the jatropha plant, and even devoted giant tracts of land to develop the jatropha. The federal government had claimed that by 2014, Chhattisgarh can be self-sufficient when it got here to biofuel.
However the enthusiasm ran out of gasoline by the point the yr 2014 got here round.
Regardless of enormous quantities of cash being spent on the initiative, the unavailability of excellent high quality seeds, introduced the jatropha initiative to a grinding halt. And related fears are being expressed for the rice-to-ethanol plans too.
Whereas he considers the potential of making ethanol from rice promising, Raipur-based agriculture scientist Sanket Thakur is sceptical about how profitable will probably be. “The state has a bumper crop of paddy and it is sensible to make ethanol with all the surplus grains now we have,” Thakur instructed Gaon Connection. However, he identified how the plans had fallen flat with the dear authorities, and nothing had come out of it. It was the identical with the jatropha undertaking too, he mentioned.
“If one litre of ethanol may be made out of two kilos of rice costing thirty rupees a kilo, then it’s less expensive than a litre of petrol that prices hundred rupees a litre now,” the scientist mentioned. However what precisely did the federal government wish to do with the ethanol, he requested.
Rice-to-ethanol: A loss making enterprise?
There are murmurs of dissent within the opposition social gathering (BJP) within the state, which claims the rice-to-ethanol programme can be a loss making enterprise.
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“Nothing good will come out of the undertaking of constructing ethanol from rice; there’s little or no likelihood of constructing successful of it,” Dharamlal Kaushik, opposition chief within the Vidhan Sabha, instructed Gaon Connection.
Making ethanol out of spoiling paddy is one factor, however utilizing rice that prices as much as Rs 25 a kilo to do this can’t be a worthwhile enterprise, Kaushik continued. “Such a undertaking can not survive,” he declared.
Alternatively, Ravindra Chaubey, authorities spokesperson and the state’s agriculture minister, mentioned that the rice-to-ethanol initiative can be useful to the farmers. “Organising ethanol models within the state will give the state financial system impetus,” Chaubey instructed Gaon Connection.
“The work on the ethanol undertaking is transferring quickly. There’s a fixed dialogue with the central authorities on the matter,” the state agriculture minister added. He additionally knowledgeable that the central authorities had additionally given environmental clearance for the undertaking. “The state had already obtained permission to supply ethanol from sugarcane and maize,” Chaubey mentioned.
Use ‘surplus’ rice to deal with meals safety
Public well being researchers have sturdy reservations in the direction of the rice to biofuel undertaking. “This concept of constructing ethanol from rice will have an effect on meals safety,” Sulakshana Nandi, nationwide joint convener, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, instructed Gaon Connection. “There are lots of cases of malnutrition in Chhattisgarh. Added to that was the financial hardships, the COVID 19 pandemic had led to,” mentioned the general public well being skilled based mostly in Raipur.
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“The federal government ought to first guarantee the great well being of its individuals. As a substitute of the seven kilos of rice it offers every particular person by way of the PDS [public distribution system], the federal government ought to distribute fifteen to twenty kilos,” Nandi prompt, including that if there was surplus rice within the state, it ought to give it to these states that didn’t have sufficient rice to that poor and needy may be fed.
Whereas paper wars are on and there’s trade of letters, plans and debates over the organising of ethanol making crops in Chhattisgarh, it stays to be seen how lengthy will probably be, if in any respect, for the undertaking to see the sunshine of day.
Learn the story in Hindi.