New Delhi: Surplus rice stored in go-downs and factories will now be used to manufacture ethanol for hand sanitizers, the central government announced on Monday. Also Read - Pandemic Casts Shadow over Dussehra Festivities in India, Covid Effigies Become New Addition | See Visuals

The decision, however, depends on the approval of the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC). Earlier today, a meeting was conducted chaired by Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan where it was decided that any excess food grains can be used to convert into ethanol for making alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Also Read - Be Ready to Face 'Twindemic' as Winter is Approaching Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Experts

“It was approved that the surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India may be converted to ethanol for utilization in making alcohol-based hand-sanitizers and in blending for Ethanol Blended Petrol programme,” a statement after the meeting read. Also Read - Delhi May Report 14,000 Covid Cases a Day During Festive Season: Satyender Jain

The move has been deemed controversial as thousands of migrants, daily wage workers and poor people are starving for days due to the nationwide lockdown with no food to eat even as the go-downs of Food Corporation of India are full of produce.

Meanwhile, the government had announced that extra food will be provided to the needy and 5 kg of rice or wheat was schemed for poor people under the public distribution system. However, this scheme is accessible only to those who have ration cards.