Sanitiser producers in J&K struggle for licenses amid spike in COVID cases

JAMMU: Since the first outbreak of coronavirus pandemic early last year, the Jammu and Kashmir government, as also with case everywhere else, has spent significant resources on encouraging people for hand sanitization, besides masking up and social distancing, but the authorities conveniently forgot to renew licenses of the sanitizer makers.

In absence of any universally accepted line of treatment for the coronavirus infection, the authorities have put most reliance on making sure that people maintain personal hygiene, wear masks and maintain social distancing. Enterprises, institutions and individuals across the country, as also the world over, have paid attention to producing masks and sanitisers in plenty but in Jammu and Kashmir the authorities didn’t even check the difficulties faced by the local producers of hand sanitisers.

Industry insiders say that the excise policy in vogue across last year didn’t have provision of allowing use of alcohol for making sanitisers. Some people associated with this particular industry said that matter was brought to the notice of concerned authorities several times but it did not bring any results.

“The excise policy 2021-22 also doesn’t include use of alcohol for making hand sanitizer, and the department is reluctant to issue or renew licenses for the purpose,” an official associated with the development said.

With less production, Jammu and Kashmir is facing shortage of hand sanitizers at the shops of chemists and druggists amid the second wave of COVID 19.

He informed that the grave laxities on the part of J&K UT administration came to fore when the government is spending huge amount on advertisement to make people aware about COVID 19 and use of hand sanitizers .

Even the  Ministry of Home Affairs have asked the states and UTs to rope in distilleries and give permission to pharmaceutical companies  for the production of hand sanitizers to meet its increasing demand.

Efforts were made to reach the Finance Commissioner Finance, Arun Kumar Mehta but there wasn’t any response from his side. However, when asked, the Excise Commissioner, Rahul Sharma said, “I will see the isuse”. He didn’t take any further questions as why such a casual approach was adopted even in the face of deadly pandemic which the government is claiming to be fighting on war footing basis.

Credible sources said that the pharmaceutical companies are running from pillar to post to get alcohol for the manufacturing of life saving drugs and hand sanitizers. With the shortage of availability of the hand sanitizers, the MRP for the same has been shot up in the market.

“ JK Excise Department has  not been able to provide alcohol for the last six months on the grounds that  in its excise policy of 2020-21 the use of alcohol had not been included”, said Satish Kaul, president Pharmaceutical manufacturing Association. He said that now the same has been included in 2021-22 excise policy and the companies are submitting their documents required by the excise department.

“While other states are giving preference for production  of hand sanitizers, our JK UT is busy in e auctioning of liquor shops for the sake of money. I have been asked  that how I got the permission for production of  hand sanitizer when it has not been included in the 2020-21 excise policy”, said Sanjay Mehra, the owner of  distillery.  He said that even big  pharmaceutical companies are not able to get alcohol for manufacturing of hand sanitizer and even Dabur India Limited company has planned to shift  its unit  outside the UT.

“ I have apprised the issue to the Commissioner of Excise Department  who said that manufacturers require to submit the  documents to the department viz registration from   DIC,GST number,  drugs license and others for renewal of the excise’s license and availability of alcohol”, said Lalit Mahajat, President Bari Brahmana Industries Association.



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