As per the new rates, an N-95 mask would cost between Rs 19 to Rs 45 depending on its kind, while a 3-ply would cost Rs 4 and a 2-ply mask Rs 3. At present, an N-95 mask costs Rs 150 to Rs 600 in the market, while a 3-ply mask costs anywhere between Rs 20 to Rs 40.
The new rates will not only reduce existing market prices by 40 per cent to 60 per cent but also ensure that the masks cost less than the reusable plain cotton masks that are being sold anywhere between Rs 10 to Rs 200. The Food and Drug Administration will have to ensure chemist sell masks at the new prescribed rates.
Senior officials said the notification was approved by the chief minister’s office on Tuesday, almost a fortnight after the proposal was forwarded by the public health department. Mask manufacturers had strongly opposed the move for price capping.
On July 31, the government had set up a four-member expert committee to study manufacturing cost and advice ceiling prices for masks. As per the committee’s recommendation, a doctor’s kit has been capped at Rs 127 and a filtering face piece (FFP) mask at Rs 12. The rates of FFP mask was around Rs 200 to Rs 600 earlier.
The central government had declared masks and sanitisers as essential commodities in March but removed them from the list in June. It took the state government a month to first monitor market prices and eventually set up a committee to study manufacturing costs and advise ceiling rates.
The committee, in its report, observed that prices of masks rose by six times during the pandemic. It also advised action against two manufacturers for increasing the cost of masks while it was still an essential commodity.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines