The government has notified an order under the Essential Commodities Act to declare price cap on these alcohols prevailing as on March 5 up to June 30, 2019.
The government on Thursday said prices of alcohols used in manufacturing hand sanitizers have been capped under the Essential Commodities Act on account of coranavirus outbreak. The decision would empower the central government and states/union territories to regulate prices, production, sale, distribution, transport, movement, storage, information of alcohols used in manufacturing hand sanitizers, used as preventive measure to avoid infection from COVID-19, Ministry of Consumer Affairs said in a statement.
It would also empower governments to smoothen the sale and availability of these items and carry out operations against hoarders, speculators, profiteers, black marketeers and those involved in contravention of the orders of central government and states/UTs in respect of these alcohols. It will help manufacturers of hand sanitizers to keep prices of their product at reasonable level and within the reach of the common people, it added.
The ministry said that government has notified an order under the Essential Commodities Act to declare price cap on these alcohols prevailing as on March 5 up to June 30, 2019. “In view the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 and concern of the logistics for COVID 19 management particularly during last couple of weeks and that prices of the alcohol used in manufacturing the hand sanitizers have been exorbitantly increased by the producers of such alcohol, government has notified an order under the Act to declare price cap prevailing as on 05.03.2020 on the above alcohols up to 30th June, 2019,” it said. It has also notified that the raw materials used in manufacture of essential commodities are also essential commodities under the Act.
States can now ask the manufactures of these alcohols not to increase the prices of their produce without concurrence of the central government, it said. “On these items, states may now notify the central order in their official Gazette, also issue their own orders under the Act to that effect and take necessary actions as per the situation prevailing in the respective states,” it said.
Under the Act, powers of the central government have already been delegated to the states by way of orders during 1972 to 1978, it said. The central government, it said, has requested the states/UTs to advise manufacturers of deodorants to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizer spray with ethyl alcohol as main content on mass scale in the same plant which may manufacture this alcohol-based sanitizer at very low cost and make it available in the market at the earliest.
The states/manufacturers of deodorants may contact drugs controller, Daman & Diu to resolve the issues related to technology. The states have also been advised to ensure licences and approvals for the same on top priority basis. As this item would be an additional product in the production line, it may be endorsed on the drugs and cosmetics licence of such deodorant manufacturers.
“The states are also advised that manufacturer of this product may also be given excise permit for use of ethanol alcohol as raw material,” it added. Further, they have been advised that the existing manufacturing units of alcohol based sanitizer be encouraged to increase their capacity. “Ministry of Environment has allowed increase in capacity by 50 per cent without further environment clearances,” it added.
On March 13, the government declared masks, including the N95 variant, and hand sanitizers as ‘essential commodities’ in the wake of the coronavirus scare leading to shortages and black marketing of these items.