Dealers in drugs and surgical items in the eastern commercial hub of Birtamod, Jhapa, closed their shops and absconded owing to fear of a monitoring team today.

Responding to complaints that wholesalers were charging exorbitantly for drugs and surgical items, a team deployed by the District Administration Office carried out monitoring of the outlets today.

Though the monitoring team raided a retail drugstore and found that medical equipment and goods were being sold at more than double the usual price, other pharmacies had closed their shops getting wind of the imminent monitoring.

During the monitoring, a retail drugstore based on the Shanishchare Road was found to have sold oxymetres at an unreasonably high price.

"When we found that the shop was selling an oxygen level-measuring device for Rs 2,800, way up from the usual price of Rs 1,200, we asked him to justify the exorbitant price. We, however, found that it had cost him dearly as he bought from some wholesaler.

We then went to monitor the supplier's store, only to find it and all other surgical wholesale traders closed," said a member of the monitoring team.

The monitoring team said wholesale dealers and other retail shops might have closed their outlets upon getting wind of the monitoring. According to sources, it's not only the oxymetre, but also other items, such as gloves and face shields that the surgical shops here are selling at exorbitant price.

The monitoring team was led by Assistant Chief District Officer Trilochan Rimal. It included Chief Administrative Officer Ramhari Khatiwada, Gopal Baral of District Health Office, and Tulasi Pokharel of Birtamod Municipality.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.