The Chandigarh weights and measures department has carried out checking at only around 50 commercial outlets in past four years. Interestingly enough, in most of these cases, the department acted only after consumers approached it with complaints.
There are around 50,000 shops and commercial establishments in the city and the department is responsible for keeping a check on weight, measurement, quality, quantity and duplicity of products.
Figures provided under the Right to Information (RTI) Act reveal that the department conducted checking only on three occasions in 2011. In the following year, just 15 outlets were raided, of which in five cases, the process of imposing fine is still underway.
In 2013, a total of 23 outlets were raided, out of which fine in seven cases is yet to be determined. In the current year, around 15 commercial establishments were raided, of which, the penalty to be imposed on three outlets is yet to be decided. In the past four years, the department imposed fine ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 50,000 on defaulters.
Aware of the situation, UT controller, weights and measures, Satish Kumar Jain, attributed poor rate of checking to staff crunch in the department.
"We have to manage all affairs including, office work, with the limited resources," said Jain, adding that under present scenario, it is very difficult to handle the work.
He said that the department had requested the administration to provide more manpower for efficient working.
For the past over eight years, the department has been managing its affairs with one inspector, who is on deputation from Haryana, against the sanctioned strength of five inspectors.
As per norms laid down by the ministry of food and civil supplies directorate legal metrology, an inspector of weights and measures legal metrology is required to attend to only 1,500 shops or commercial establishments, including factories. The department is also responsible for effective enforcement of the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, and the Standards of Weights and Measures (packaged commodities) Rules, 1977.
Criticising the authorities, city-based social activist RK Garg said the department should act proactively and should not wait for consumers to approach them with complaints. "With no checks in place, consumers are duped, especially during festive season," rued Garg.
ROLES, RESPONSIBILITIES OF DEPT
Checking, inspections and prosecutions of commercial establishments found violating the provisions of weights and measures law
Stamping or sealing of dispensing units of petrol pumps
Checking of net contents of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at bottling plant or retail outlets.
Checking of packaged commodities being offered for sale by commercial establishments.