The Greater Chennai Corporation has procured masks by following the special gazette notification of the government of India under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, which fixed the price at ₹16 per mask, Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash told mediapersons on Saturday

Responding to reports of corruption in the procurement of masks, Mr. Prakash said the price of masks had increased owing to the demand after the lockdown, but has come down now with more manufacturers.

Tracing the procurement process from the beginning, he said that after the proposal of ₹7 per mask was made by the Director of Public Health on February 14, the government of India fixed the price at ₹10 per mask on March 10 in a gazette notification. As demand was rising across the country, the government of India fixed the price at ₹16 per mask on March 24. The Corporation has followed the gazette notification of the government of India for the purchase order and payment has been effected, he said.

“The government of India did it to regulate the price during a period of demand for crores of masks. Now, the price has reduced after many industries have started manufacturing masks,” Mr. Prakash clarified.

He said the Corporation has distributed at least 45 lakh cotton reusable masks, procured at ₹15.75 per mask, to residents of slums. Each of the 26 lakh slum residents have been given two masks, free of cost. The civic body procured 50 lakh masks for slum residents.

In addition to cotton masks, the demand for surgical masks for workers is estimated at 45,000 per day. Conservancy workers, door-to-door survey workers, doctors and nurses get masks free of cost during the pandemic.

The civic body has advised all workers to wear mask during COVID-19 containment activities. However, more than 345 workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Greater Chennai Corporation limits.

“Spending increases during a pandemic. Safety is our priority,” Mr. Prakash said.

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