Report traders selling masks at inflated prices

Report traders selling masks at inflated prices to 104 helpline

Industrial masks sees a spike in demand following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Bengaluru on Thursday. (DH Photo)

The health department has urged people to dial the 104 Arogya Sahayavani helpline to report any instance of traders hiking the price of masks.

Traders intending to profit from the coronavirus outbreak by charging more than the MRP of the masks will be punished, according to the rules of the legal metrology department, health commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey told a press conference on Thursday.

Data from the department revealed that the 32 state government hospitals have stockpiled 1,367 N95 masks, while the 18 private medical facilities that agreed to set up coronavirus isolation beds have 95 N95 masks.

“Let the complaints come first. We have the drug controller and legal metrology department to take action,” Pandey said.

Medical education minister Dr K Sudhakar warned pharma companies against taking advantage of the situation. “Not just (levying of) penalty, but aggressive steps will be taken,” he said. “One cannot play with such humanitarian issues. We expect commitments from healthcare
companies.”

Revealing that Karnataka is trying to procure 40,000 surgical masks and four lakh triple layer masks, Pandey said people use masks for no reason.

Meanwhile, sleuths from the enforcement wing of the commercial tax department launched a crackdown on nearly 35 medical stores in Belagavi on Thursday, amid reports that they are selling masks at exorbitant prices.

“A mask worth Rs 20 is sold for Rs 200 without a bill or GST. The 35 shops were fined Rs 20,000 for unethical practices,” said K Raman, joint commissioner, commercial tax department (Northern Range).

Fifty-four medical shops were also raided in Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts as sleuths bought masks like regular customers. Officials noted that most of them did not issue bills.

Officials also added that the masks were bought in bulk from Goa and Maharashtra without GST bills and sold in the districts for higher
margins.

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