NATIONAL

Masks, sanitisers now essential commodities

Centre announces the decision following their shortage in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak

Masks and hand sanitisers have been declared as essential commodities due to their shortage in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Friday, the Centre notified an order under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to declare 2 ply and 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities till June 30, 2020. It has also issued an advisory under the Legal Metrology Act, so that States can ensure these items are not sold for more than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).

It has been noted that these products are “either not available with most of the vendors in the market or are available with great difficulty at exorbitant prices,” said a statement from the Consumer Affairs Department. The decision would empower the States and the Central government to regulate production, quality, distribution and sale of these items, and carry out operations against those involved in speculation, overpricing and black marketing.

Consumers can register complaints with the National Consumer Helpline1800-11-4000or atconsumerhelpline.gov.in.

An offender under the Essential Commodities Act can be punished with imprisonment up to seven years, or a fine, or both.

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