Consumers are being overcharged for milk not only by private retailers, but also by Aarey milk booths across Mumbai: of the 85 cases of overcharging registered by the legal metrology organisation (LMO) in April, 16 cases — or 20% — were against Aarey milk booths and centres.
Over the past few months, the LMO has been cracking down on errant shop-keepers for charging consumers more than the maximum retail price (MRP) for milk bags, cold drinks and bottled water.
“Overcharging by Aarey centres is a serious concern. If the state is not able to curb overcharging in their own outlets, how can they expect other establishments to obey the law,” said Anuradha Desphande, a committee member of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).
There are 1,800 Aarey centres — considered major milk distribution points — across the city.
These booths are authorised retail outlets for milk and milk products processed by the dairy development department. However, some of these centres have been charging consumers more than the MRP for milk bags, bottled water and soft drinks.
“Just ensuring that the Aarey centres do not overcharge us will make a big difference to citizens. It will give us an option to purchase milk at the MRP. Now, as everyone overcharges, we are not left with any choice,” said Krishna Datta, a Goregaon resident.
The LMO has forwarded the details of some cases to the dairy development department and has asked them to take action.
“We have told local corporations in Mumbai and Thane and kept the dairy development department informed about the MRP violations,” said Sanjay Pandey, controller, LMO.
The government has already issued circulars to retail outlets, asking them to charge as per he MRP, said DD Kulkarni, general manager, Greater Mumbai Milk Scheme (Mumbai division) .
“We cannot take legal action on retail outlets that are overcharging. That authority lies with the LMO. So citizens should complain to the LMO only. But if the offence is being repeated, we will issue warnings and also close down the outlet,” he said.