The consumer affairs ministry has asked states to distribute hygiene products such as hand sanitizers and face masks through ration shops at fair prices and easy availability. Consumer affairs secretary Pawan Agarwal, while taking a review meeting with states over video conference, said that the industry representatives have shown interest in distributing such hygiene products at lower prices through the fair price shops.
“Few states have started distributing these items through public distribution system. Other states may also follow the model,” he said. The Delhi government has also started distributing face masks, gloves soaps and hand sanitisers at fair price shops the national capital. Agarwal also asked states particularly Maharashtra, to ensure that couriers of ecommerce platforms are allowed to operate in big cities where restrictions on movement are in place.
He also asked States to ensure stocks of Ethyl Alcohol, the major component in sanitizer sprays, are made available to deodorant manufacturers so that they can ramp up production. “States should temporarily suspend the biometric authentication for retail sales to consumers to contain the spread of the Covid pandemic,” he said. Agarwal advised states and union territories to ensure there is no shortage of essential supplies including hygiene products such as hand sanitizers and masks that have been recently brought under the Essential Commodities Act, especially in areas where prohibitory orders are in force. He also asked them to constantly monitor prices of commodities under the EC Act.
The Secretary said the Centre has issued orders that States can lift foodgrains supplies for upto six months and pass on to retailers so that consumers can stock at homes. The Department of Consumer Affairs along with the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued a set of directions to manufacturers and retailers of hygiene products to ramp up production capacity and ensure fair distribution and retail, besides administering their prices.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) and Director, Legal Metrology through State Governments are monitoring the availability of sanitizers and masks and taking strict action against hoarding and sale above MRP.
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