Maharashtra Govt Forms Committee to Cap Prices of Masks and Sanitizers: Report
The Maharashtra Government has set up a four-member committee headed by the Sudhakar Shinde, who is the chief executive (CEO) of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Aarogya Yojana, to make recommendations to cap the prices of masks and sanitizers, says a report from Free Press Journal.
 
The government move comes after it received multiple complaints with regard to sale of masks and sanitizers at inflated rates during the ongoing corona virus (Covid 19) crisis, the report says.
 
On Friday, the state government issued a notification and had asked the committee to submit a report within three days.  After this, the Department of Medical Education and Drugs will issue directives capping the prices of masks and sanitizers, the report from Free Press Journal added.
 
 
The Department of Medical Education and Drugs Officer told Free Press Journal that the prices of masks and sanitizers were regulated by the union government after the lockdown was announced in March. However, the Centre removed masks and sanitizers from the category of essential commodity through an order released on 30 June 2020. 
 
‘’The state government wrote to the Centre seeking inclusion of masks and sanitizers in the category of essential commodity. The Centre has yet to act.
 
However, the government received complaints about the sale of these two products at higher prices. Therefore, the decision was jointly taken by the departments of public health and Food and Drug Administration to form the committee and later urge the Department of Medical Education and Drugs to cap the prices,‘’ the officer told the newspaper.
 
As reported by Moneylife , while the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rages on relentlessly, it brings in its wake frauds and scams that expose the utter callousness with which the crisis is being handled by those in power, and the naked greed that has overtaken those who can profit from protective equipment and medicine. 
 
The N95 masks have been an example of massive profiteering, corruption and hoarding since the start of the pandemic. In a new twist, the union government removed N95 masks from the list of essential services, thus opening the floodgates for the entry of fake, inexpensive and spuriously certified masks into the market.
 
These N95 masks are being offered to hospitals and authorised PPE (personal protective equipment) manufacturers from Rs25 to Rs45 claiming appropriate certification. The are also sold by street side hawkers, but even online market places are selling dubiously certified masks at prices ranging from Rs175 to Rs350 or more. Moneylife Foundation has been campaigning against this profiteering and one of its trustees is also part of a public interest litigation filed in the Bombay High Court. (Read: 95 Masks: Bombay HC Asks Union Govt and NPPA To Cap Prices in 2 Weeks
 
The government and its regulators seem to be a willing and active accomplice in this nefarious chaos. First, it persistently refused to cap the prices of the N95 masks which were selling at an exorbitant rate and the regulator—the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) defended the pricing, even in the high court. When asked by the court to take another look at its decision, the regulator stuck to its stand, while admitting profiteering. 
 
But suddenly, the Union department of consumer affairs did an about turn and removed masks and sanitizers, including N95, from the list of ‘essential commodities’ and eliminated to basic plank of the PIL. But this has only endangered people, by unleashing a flood of low-priced fakes or wrongly certified masks into the market even as the pandemic rages across India and many cities have imposed a fresh lockdown. (Read: Fake & Cheap N95 Masks Flood the Market After Govt Revokes Its ‘Essential Commodities’ Status)
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    Indian Railways to have airport-like contactless ticketing system: Chairman
    Taking a big leap towards digitalisation, the Railways will move towards airport-like contactless ticketing with QR code enabled tickets, which will be scanned on handheld devices and mobile phones across its stations and trains, Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav said.
     
    Addressing a virtual press conference here, Yadav said that while 85 per cent of the train tickets are currently being booked online, this QR code will also be available for those buying tickets from the counter.
     
    "We have introduced a QR code system which will be placed on tickets. If one buys online, the code will be provided on the ticket. Even on window tickets, an SMS will be generated and sent on the mobile phone which will have a link and it will display the QR code when the link is touched," he said.
     
    The Chairman said that the TTE at stations or on trains either with their hand held equipment or through their mobile phones which will have a QR application will be able to scan the code and immediately capture details of the passengers travelling on the ticket.
     
    "So the ticketing system will be completely contactless," he said.
     
    While Yadav said that the Railways is not planning to go completely paperless as of now, it will considerably reduce its use by also facilitating online booking of reserved, unreserved and platform tickets.
     
    A pilot project has been introduced at the Prayagraj Junction of North Central Railway where contactless ticket checking system with airport like check-in for all passengers entering the station will be done.
     
    Yadav also said that the Railways' IRCTC website will be completely revamped and the processes will be simplified, personalised and even be integrated with hotel and meal booking.
     
    Yadav also said that the Railways has digitised all its assets for better monitoring.
     
    He said the Railways has completed geo spatial mapping of all of its assets, including OHE, signalling system, tracks and lands plans.
     
    The Railways has also introduced digital Initiatives in its freight and train operations, he said. 
     
    Freight Operations Information System (FOIS), E-Registration of demand, E-payment Gateway, Integrated Coaching Management System (ICMS), Control Office Application (COA), Crew Management System (CMS), Software aided Train Scheduling System (SATSANG), Safety Information Management System (SIMS), and Auto-generation of Optimised Loco Links are some of the applications that are being used for the smooth movement of goods trains, he said.
     
    He also said that an electronic Drawing Approval System (e-DAS) has been developed. 
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Microsoft Teams goes down in India, schoolchildren in a fix
    The enterprise communication tool Teams from Microsoft on Wednesday went down for millions of users in India and students were not able to take online classes in the Covid-19 pandemic times.
     
    According to outage monitor portal Down Detector, 68 per cent of users reported they were facing server connection issues, 28 per cent users faced log in issues as well as 3 per cent reported website issues.
     
    Microsoft was yet to report the problem.
     
    The outage started when thousands of schools were in the middle of their 9 am-1 pm online classes' schedule.
     
    Several teachers in Noida reported problems in connecting on Teams as well as children at home experienced difficulty to join the online classes.
     
    Back in February, Microsoft confirmed Teams was down because the tech giant forgot to renew a critical security certificate.
     
    Microsoft recently reported that Teams had grown to 75 million daily users, more than double its early March figure. On one day, it logged 4.1 billion meeting minutes.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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