Mumbai: In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Maharashtra government has issued a stern warning against hoarders and black marketeers of essential commodities like drugs, oils, kerosene, coal, iron, steel and pulses.
Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Chhagan Bhujbal said the action will be taken as per the provisions of the Prevention of black marketing and maintenance of supplies of essential commodities Act, 1980 and the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Additionally, the state can now also initiate action against hoarding and black marketing of masks and sanitizers as per the center’s notification issued of March 13, 2020. The above items have been brought under the purview of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Bhujbal told FPJ,'' The Center in its communication has asked states to initiate strong action against hoarders and black marketers of essential commodities in the present conditions.
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 price shops and other outlets across the state.''
The Center has hinted that because of coronavirus spread it cannot rule out possibility of scarcity of essential commodities and their sale at an inflated price.
''Therefore, it is necessary that normal supply of such commodities remains unabated. No one will be spared if found guilty of hoarding and black marketing,'' warned Bhujbal.
The government's move is crucial as the Food and Drug Administration has seized duplicate masks and sanitizers 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 chances.
The department of food and civil supplies officer said that the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 gives sufficient powers to the state government to protect citizens from exploitation by unscrupulous traders. The act helps to control 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 Black marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.