Face masks, hand sanitisers no more under Essential Commodities Act, says government
Face masks and hand sanitisers have been now kept out of the purview of Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan said on Tuesday as there is sufficient supply of these items.
On March 13, the Union consumer affairs ministry declared face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities for 100 days to boost supply and prevent hoarding of these items in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
"These two products were declared as essential items till June 30. We are not extending further as there is enough supply in the country," Nandan told PTI.
A decision in this regard was taken after consultation with the state governments, she said.
"We have checked with all states and got information from them that there is sufficient supply of these two items. There is no supply concern," she added.
Masks -- 2-ply and 3-ply surgical masks, and N95 masks -- and hand sanitisers were brought under the Essential Commodities Act in March. This had empowered states to regulate production, distribution and prices of these items as well as crackdown on hoarding and blackmarketing.
In efforts to curb spreading of coronavirus infections, masks and hand sanitisers are being widely used in the country.
On June 29, the Indian government permitted shipments of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) medical coveralls for COVID-19 with an export quota of 50 lakh units per month.
The product was banned for export earlier, but has now been moved to the restricted category, under which an exporter would have to seek a licence from the government for shipments.
In a notification, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said, "A monthly quota of 50 lakh PPE medical coverall for COVID-19 units has been fixed for issuance of export licence to the eligible applicants to export PPE medical coveralls for COVID-19 as per the criteria to be separately issued in a trade notice."
(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)