Distilleries in Madhya Pradesh that were producing liquor till a few days ago are now busy producing sanitisers to meet its increasing demand from hospitals and medical stores in the wake of COVID 19 outbreak.
There are 11 distilleries in the state and all have begun large-scale production of the hand sanitisers, which has already been put under Essential Commodities Act. It’s unclear when exactly the distilleries stopped production of liquor, but they began producing hand sanitisers on March 25.
By Monday evening, the total volume of production reached 2,11,670 bulk litre. The production figure of Monday alone stood at 58,251 BL with details from two distilleries still awaited.
The first COVID 19 cases in the state were reported from Jabalpur on March 20. This coupled with the awareness created by ‘janta curfew’ imposed on March 22 suddenly led to a surge in demand for sanitisers in MP.
The warehouses meant to stock IMFL are being used to stock sanitisers for further distribution. “We have produced sanitisers in sufficient quality and are in a position to send it outside the state,” an assistant Excise Commissioner told The Indian Express. He said it did take some time to obtain the special licenses for the distilleries but things have fallen in place. The commodity is being sold to government hospitals at 50 per cent discount.
Excise commissioner Rajesh Bahuguna said the staff engaged in production maintains adequate distance between each other. He said the move to engage distilleries in production of sanitisers followed directives from the central government. The distilleries had never produced sanitisers before. He said it does not involve any special expertise because extra neutral alcohol produced by distilleries is the main ingredient of the sanitisers.
Incidentally, many liquor outlets in the state were still open even after the national lockdown was announced. On March 27, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan gave strict instructions to close down liquor vends warning excise officials of action if any shops selling IMFL and country liquor were found open. At some places, people thronged to buy liquor defeating the purpose of lockdown. Even on the day of Janata Curfew, liquor outlets in the state were open leading to criticism from certain quarters.
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