The outbreak of the COVID-19 in India has seen an unprecedented surge in the demand for hand sanitisers and facemasks. Last week, attempting to purchase a bottle of sanitiser for the family, I visited 5 different pharmacies, to be turned away at all saying they were out of stock.
Not only is there a great deal of panic buying that is taking place, but people are also resorting to hoarding these products.
To curb this, in a series of tweets,Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said that a 200 ml bottle of hand sanitiser cannot be sold for more than Rs 100.
He added that the price of 2 ply (surgical) masks cannot be more than Rs 8 per piece while that of 3 ply (surgical) mask cannot exceed Rs 10.
“Other sizes of bottles will also be priced in the same proportion. These prices will be applicable throughout the country until 30 June 2020.”
What if someone violates this?
If you find a shopkeeper in violation of this rule, do note that the shopkeeper can be penalised in the following ways:
- Under the Essential Commodities Act, the punishment of upto 7 years or fine or both and
- Under the Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities (PBMMSEC) Act, he can be detained for a maximum of 6 months.
How will this help?
By empowering the Government and States/UTs to regulate the production, quality, distribution etc. of masks (2 ply & 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks) and hand sanitisers.
To smoothen the sale and availability of these items and carry out operations against orders speculators etc. and those involved in overpricing, blackmarketing etc.
It will enhance the availability of both the items to the general people at reasonable prices or under MRP.
The States are also advised to give publicity of State Helplines for registering complaints by the consumers of the above two items.
How to register a complaint?
- The consumers may register their complaints with the National Consumer Helpline No. 1800-11-4000
- Online Complaints can be made at www.consumer helpline.gov.in.
- An e-mail complaint can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com@gov.in.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)