Maharashtra government has issued a stern warning against speculators and those indulging into hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities drugs, oils, kerosene, coal, iron, steel and pulses especially in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Chhagan Bhujbal said the action will be taken as per the provisions of the Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980 and the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Interestingly, the state can now initiate action against hoarding and black marketing of masks and sanitisers also as per the Centre's notification issued of March 13, 2020, bringing them under the purview of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Bhujbal told FPJ, “The Centre in its communication has asked states to initiate strong action against hoarders and black marketers of essential commodities in the present conditions following the coronavirus outbreak. Necessary instructions were issued to the district supply officers, commissioners of police, district superintendents of police to keep a close vigil to ensure normal supply of essential commodities in fair shops and other shops across the state.''
The Centre has hinted that because of the coronavirus outbreak it cannot rule out the possibility of scarcity of essential commodities and their sale at inflated prices. ''Therefore, it is necessary that the normal supply remains on such commodities at fair price. No one will be spared if found guilty of hoarding and black marketing,'' he warned.
The government's move is crucial as the Food and Drug Administration has seized duplicate masks and sanitisers from various districts. Although there are no cases of hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities reported so far, Bhujbal said the government does not want to take any chance.
The department of food and civil supplies officer said the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 gives sufficient powers to the state government to protect citizens from exploitation by unscrupulous traders by controlling the hoarding of a commodity. The government officials are empowered to detain or imprison hoarders by invoking the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and also the Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.