India’s hand sanitizer production capacity went up by a staggering 1,000 times to 30 lakh litres per day from an annual production of mere 10 lakh litres, as sugar mills and ethanol distilleries with the help of Central and State governments rose to the occasion to meet the challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier India was producing only 10 lakh litres of hand sanitizer per annum, used mainly in the hospitals, but keeping in view the crucial role of sanitiser in the fight against Covid-19, the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) coordinated with the industry and State governments to encourage the sugar mills and ethanol makers to produce more sanitisers, said DFPD Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey at a media briefing on Tuesday. This resulted in over 900 distilleries and independent units getting permissions to produce hand sanitizers, leading to the country developing an installed capacity of 30 lakh litres per day in a short period of time, Pandey said.

Surplus exported

According to him, this year till May 31, around 3.9 crore litres of hand sanitizer was produced in the country. In view of surplus availability of sanitisers in the country, export of hand sanitisers has also been allowed earning tremendous amount of goodwill for the country, the DFPD Secretary said.

Dalmia Bharat Sugars & Industries (DBSIL) was among those firms that sprung to action on sanitiser front. The New Delhi-headquartered firm, with four sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, set up sanitiser manufacturing plants in three facilities at Sitapur (UP), Shajahanpur (UP) and Kolhapur (Maharashtra).

These three units have a combined capacity of 45,000 litres per day, said Deepak Kumar, CEO of DBSIL’s consumer business. Under the brand Dalmia Sanjeevani Hand Sanitiser, DBSIL has been producing two variants of hand sanitizers based on World Health Organisation recommended formulation. While one is a 100 per cent plant alcohol-based sanitizer capable of killing 99 per cent germs, the other one is devoid of any chemicals and is made up of 100 per cent natural bioactive extracts like neem, aleo vera, lemon and tea tree oil, said Kumar.

S L Sharma, Executive Director of Uttam Sugar Mills, another UP-based sugar mill, said his firm has put up a plant that can produce 20,000 litres of hand sanitizers per day. “But at present, because of lower demand, we are producing only 5,000-6,000 litres per day,” he said. It has been selling hand sanitizer packaged in 100 ml, 200 ml, 500 ml and 5 litre bottles in North Indian States through wholesalers and retailers. According to Sharma, though the firm had queries from the Middle East, it has not resorted to any export till now.