Centre plans to sell generic medicines at fuel stations
NEW DELHI: The government is working on opening 'Jan Aushadhi' (generic medicines) stores at petrol pumps belonging to state-run fuel retailers across the country with a view to make cheap drugs accessible to masses, Union oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday.
"Oil marketing companies are bringing an ecosystem of non-fuel retail business at petrol pumps through tieups. The Jan Aushadhi stores under the department of pharmaceuticals in the chemicals & fertilizers ministry will also be opened at the outlets in the future," Pradhan said after the fuel retailers inked MoU with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd for selling energy-efficient appliances and LED bulbs from petrol pumps.
But shortage of qualified pharmacists have emerged as a problem. Under law, drug stores need to have qualified pharmacists. While most of the private drug stores list such pharmacists, they are seldom present. "As government entity, we can't do that," a person familiar with inter-government discussions told TOI. But the officials were hopeful of finding a way and said it will also open job opportunities.
EESL is a company promoted by state-run power utilities. It is spearheading the government's flagship 'Ujala' scheme to replace all incandescent and CFL bulbs in the country with LED lamps by 2019.
Pradhan said the IT ministry's 'Common Service Centre' concept is also being explored to offer government services such as issuing PAN and E-Aadhaar cards, utility bill payments, banking solutions and agriservices at the pumps.
Power, coal and renewable energy minister Piyush Goyal said the MoU was an example of how the Narendra Modi government worked as a single unit.
Under the tie-up with IndianOil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, EESL will leverage the network of their 55,000 petrol pumps, which have a daily footfall of 3.5 crore, to sell LED bulbs and other energy efficient appliances.
"It is worth noting that two important ministries have come together to realise the Prime Minister's vision of every citizen having access to energy efficient appliances. The marketing network of the three oil marketing companies is unparalleled and this tie-up will only accelerate and scale up the distribution of energy efficient appliances across the length and breadth of the country," he said.
EESL will make the entire upfront investment for ensuring availability of the products at the outlets and no upfront capital cost will be borne by the oil marketing companies, barring manpower and space. EESL will pay 10% to the outlets on sale. The consumer can purchase high-quality 9W LED bulbs for Rs 70, 20W LED tubelight for Rs 220 and five-star rated ceiling fan for Rs 1,200.