Low-quality health gear has flooded city markets: Delhi police
The skyrocketing demand for masks, PPE kits, hand sanitisers and gloves, fuelled by the surge in Covid-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic, has led to the mushrooming of unauthorised manufacturing units that are producing these essentials using substandard material, the Delhi Police’s intelligence unit has said in its report submitted to the police brass.
According to the report, these unauthorised units are being run out of local markets and industrial areas around Delhi-NCR. In most units, apart from the quality of materials used in the production, cleanliness and health hygiene are grossly compromised, officers privy to the intelligence report has said.
Also, the units are defying labour regulations by employing children, and unskilled and semi-skilled women for low wages and then putting them to work in unhygienic conditions, posing a threat to their health, the officers said.
Parallel to the action continuing against people involved in cheating, hoarding and black-marketing of medicines, injections and medical equipment used for treating Covid patients, the Delhi Police has now planned a crackdown on manufacturing units involved in producing spurious sanitisers and substandard PPE kits, masks and gloves, a senior police officer said, not wishing to be named.
The police have also urged the public to dial the Covid helpline -- 011-23469900 -- and share information if they come across adulterated sanitisers or low-grade medical gear, Delhi Police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal said.
“We have been receiving information that people have started selling/supplying low-quality masks, PPE Kits, gloves and sanitisers. The Delhi Police has zero tolerance to people who, by resorting to such malpractices, are risking the lives of innocent persons. If anyone has any information about such people, (s)he should inform us on our helpline,” said Biswal.
Apart from the 15 police districts and other units, the city police has also written to the civic agencies, Delhi government’s health, drugs control, labour, and home departments for taking steps to counter such spurious trade.
A senior police officer, in the know of the report, said on condition of anonymity, “Employing children in these units is not only illegal but also dangerous -- they are exposed to the infection as there is no social distancing protocols in these units. Adulterated sanitisers can cause skin ailments in people and also lead to fire incidents, as sanitisers are inflammable by composition. In local production units, any and every kind of fabric is being used to make face masks and PPE kits. The production in these units is totally unregulated.”
Health and medical experts also believe that use of substandard sanitisers, PPE kits, masks, gloves and other medical gear may put the lives of people at risk, especially doctors and medical personnel looking after Covid patients.
“Masks, PPE kits, gloves, and sanitisers are life-saving gear that are used by a person to avoid contracting the infection. Sale and use of substandard items means that we are playing with the lives of people. It’s a heinous crime and the police as well as other agencies should take strict action against people involved in such illegal activities. People must make it a point to buy products that are genuine and have all necessary standard compliance marks and labels,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department, community medicine at Safdarjung Hospital.