Receiving an overwhelming response at the first open house organised by the Legal Metrology Organisation (LMO) on Saturday to discuss the issue of overcharging for milk, the authorities have decided to appoint a consultative committee soon, to propose stringent laws against overcharging and profiteering.
The consultative committee, comprising citizens, consumer activists, legal experts and representatives from milk packaging companies and distributors, will hold its first meeting on Monday, in which a draft law will be discussed, which will enable authorities to take strict action against overcharging.
“It’s not just overcharging –the new law should also deal with fixing of maximum retail prices (MRPs) for essential commodities such as milk. Otherwise, milk packaging companies will increase their MRPs and legitimise the amount now illegally charged to the consumers,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
Consumers demanded government intervention for special purpose packaging, in which some products like bottled water, cold drinks and wafers are charged differently in multiplexes and airports. “Why are consumers charged differently for the same product at the airport and at the railway station? The government should also look into such discrepancies, as they affect consumers,” said MS Kamath, secretary of the Consumer Guidance Society of India.
Meanwhile, sub-distributors demanded increased margin if they are forced to sell at MRP. Some said they would distribute milk only till 8am, to avoid refrigerating cost. “We incur electricity cost to refrigerate the milk and it would be impossible to work at the existing margin. So increase our margin or allow us to sell milk only for a limited time. We will not give home delivery,” said Prakash Naykal, vice president of the Mumbai district milk-retailer association. Sanjay Pandey, controller, LMO said, “We will draft this law in a month or so and will conduct another open house to take suggestions.”