The High Court (HC) has asked the government to submit a list of auto rice millers who make and market the 'miniket' and 'nazirshail' rice, polishing different varieties of rice.
DG of Directorate of National Consumers' Rights Protection (DNCRP), DG of BSTI, and the director of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) were asked to comply with the order within four months.
On a public interest writ petition of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), a bench of Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir on Sunday issued the order.
The court also directed that a research report be submitted within four months on whether there is any risk to public health due to trimming or polishing the rice and whether the nutritional value of food is lost.
At the same time, the court issued a rule to explain why directives or guidelines may not be given to stop the making or marketing of rice with lessened nutritional value.
The Cabinet Secretary, the PM's Principal Secretary, Secretaries to Home, health, agriculture, and commerce ministries, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP), the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), the DG of Department of Environment, the Rapid Action Battalion, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BRRI), the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of seven districts, and the president/secretary of Auto Rice Mill Owners Association, have all been tasked to respond to the rule within three weeks.
The writ petition stated that according to experts' opinion in reports published in various media – including BBC Bangla – and the report of the Ministry of Food, the amount of zinc in rice is greatly reduced due to over-polishing and pruning. Even the nutrient content is greatly reduced.
According to experts, the fear of various diseases – including type-2 diabetes – is increasing as people are having rice with high carbohydrate due to the trimming of the upper part of the rice.
Therefore, it is necessary to ban the making and marketing of these rice for the sake of public health.