In a blatant violation of the law and rights of consumers, an increasing number of retailers are charging more than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) on milk packets— at a time when citizens are already burdened with rising prices of the essential commodity.
Maharashtra state legal metrology organisation has registered a 40% increase in complaints from consumers about being charged more than the MRP between April and August this year. A bulk of these pertain to milk packets. In all, the organisation has received 288 complaints this year, compared with 177 for the same period last year.
The body has now asked major milk suppliers to submit to them details of their supply chain and of how much commission is paid at each stage. Of the complaints received this year, 140 are regarding overcharging on milk packets, by Rs2-4 per litre, while 20 are about overcharging on cold drinks and water bottles.
“We have asked all big brands and major milk cooperatives to submit details of their supply chain and the commissions given to us, so we can examine them,” said Bhaujangrao Shinde, controller, legal metrology organisation. “So far, none of the big brands have submitted the details to us.”
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region receives about 60-70 lakh litres of milk. Of this, more than half comes from cooperative biggies such as Amul, Gokul and Mahanand.
“This [practice of overcharging] is a lapse on the part of the enforcement agencies. Retailers have no fear of the law. We direct several complaints regarding overcharging of milk to the legal metrology department. However, no action is seen on the ground,” said Dr Manohar Kamath, general secretary Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI). Legal metrology organisation officials, however, claimed they held regular drives.
When contacted, Madhav Patgaonkar assistant general manager Gokul said, “Our distributors’ list is displayed on our website. We are ready to cooperate with the legal metrology officials if they find [a] distributor faulty.”
“So far, we have not received any such request from the legal metrology organisation. Once we receive it, we will submit all the details,” said DD Kulkarni, Aarey deputy commissioner administrative.