- Centre warns firms against overcharging for hand sanitizer
- Some e-tailers were selling sanitizers for 16 times maximum price
- Manufactures claim prices illegally increased by unofficial sellers
The government has capped the prices of hand sanitizers to prevent firms from overcharging amid panic-buying due to the coronavirus threat. Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan tweeted that a price of 200 ml bottle of hand sanitizer cannot be sold for more than Rs 100. Mr Paswan also tweeted masks cannot be sold for more than Rs 10 per piece.
हैंड सेनिटाइजर की 200 ML बोतल की खुदरा कीमत 100 रु. से अधिक नहीं होगी। अन्य आकार की बोतलों की कीमत भी इसी अनुपात में रहेंगी। ये कीमतें 30 जून 2020 तक पूरे देश में लागू रहेंगी। 3/3@drharshvardhan@narendramodi#IndiaFightsCorona— Ram Vilas Paswan (@irvpaswan) March 20, 2020
The minister's tweets came days after people complained on social media that sellers on e-tailers like Flipkart were quoting very high prices for hand sanitizers, a much needed item during the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts have advised people to keep their hands clean as it may help reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
Some sellers on Flipkart were seen quoting 16 times the maximum retail price (MRP) for a 30 ml bottle of hand sanitizer. The arrival of the coronavirus in India has led to panic buying, with neighbourhood kirana stores reportedly running out of sanitizers and other liquids to disinfect the hands in the initial days.
The Himalaya Drug Company has said it "will take action against those who are responsible for this". "This is to clarify that we have not increased the rates of our PureHands Hand Sanitizers. The rates of our sanitizers have been illegally increased by unauthorised third-party sellers. We are not associated with these unscrupulous sellers in any way. These are illegal practices and must be dealt with firmly in accordance with law," Himalaya tweeted on March 8.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country jumped past 220, with at least 50 cases reported today alone. This marks the largest single-day jump in the outbreak. At least four deaths have been linked to the virus.
The Health Ministry has asked people to follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "janata curfew" call on Sunday. In response to the spread of the virus, the centre has shut borders to international flights and suspended incoming visas, while states have closed public spaces and asked people to work from home.