Soon, not just the retailer, but the milk packaging company and dealer, too, will be booked under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, if you are charged more for milk packets.
The legal metrology organisation (LMO), which comes under the food, civil supplies and consumer protection department of the state government, has directed milk companies to issue circulars to their dealers, asking them to control prevalent malpractices such as overcharging with immediate effect.
The idea is to root out corruption by holding the entire supply chain of sub-dealer, dealer, distributor and manufacturer accountable, as consumers are, at times, asked to pay Rs 2-5 more than the maximum retail price (MRP) for milk, bottled water and soft drinks.
Similar action could also be initiated against overcharging for bottled water and soft drinks.
At a meeting with more than 14 major milk manufactures (mostly cooperative dairies) on Tuesday, the controller of the legal metrology organisation, Sanjay Pandey, directed them to print on packet the refrigeration and transportation charges that are included in the MRP and create awareness about overcharging for milk through different platforms such as newspaper, television and displaying banners at their booths by May 1. Although he refused to divulge the details, Pandey confirmed that a meeting was held.
“It is also the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that the end-consumer is not fleeced. For other products such as oil and fuel, we implicate the entire supply chain. The same will be applicable to milk packets from now,” said a senior official from the organisation, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Under the rules, retailers cannot sell packaged products at rates higher than the MRP. Last week, the organisation had issued show-cause notices to a few milk packaging companies asking them why action should not be initiated against them although their product was being sold at prices higher than the MRP.
Hindustan Times had reported on the fleecing of consumers by shopkeepers across the city on March 9. Following the report, the organization witnessed a rise in the number of complaints and cases of overcharging for milk. In past 10 days, the department registered over 26 cases in the city, with manufactures and dealers being held responsible in some cases.
“This was a much-needed measure. Everybody in the supply chain passes the buck, if caught overcharging. This way everybody will have to ensure the product is sold at the right price,” said Shubhada Chaukar, member, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).