The Centre is closely monitoring the prices of soaps, floor cleaners and thermal scanners because of surge in demand of these items amid growing coronavirus cases in the country, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Wednesday.
Normally, the Consumer Affairs Ministry keeps track of prices of 22 essential commodities. Recently, the ministry included face masks and hand sanitizers under the Essential Commodities Act.
"We are monitoring prices of three more products -- soap, floor and hand cleaners like Lizol and Dettol as well as thermal scanners whose demand has gone up because of coronavirus scare," Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Paswan told PTI.
The prices of these products will be monitored from 114 centres across the country.
Paswan said the government will bring these three products under the Essential Commodities Act if their prices shoot up from the level which prevailed in the last six months.
Hand sanitizers and face masks are now essential items, and stringent action will be taken against those hoarding and black marketing these products, he added.
The minister said the government will monitor more products in the coming days if prices go up substantially.
The 22 commodities which the government monitors includes five items groups -- food grains (rice, wheat, atta), pulses (gram, tur, urad, moong, masur), edible oils (groundnut oil, mustard oil, vanaspati, soya oil, sunflower oil, palm oil), vegetables (potato, onion, tomato) and other items (sugar, gur, milk, tea, salt).
According to Paswan, there is high awareness about COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak among people, and the severity of outbreak in India is less as compared with other countries.
"There is no need to panic, although we need to follow all precautionary measures to protect ourselves," he said.
At Shastri Bhawan here, where Paswan's office is housed, the minister has installed hand sanitizer dispenser at entry and exit gates. Thermal scanning of visitors is also been done.