Ensuring fair deal to consumers appears to below on the priority list of the Chandigarh administration, if the staff strength of the UT department of weights and measures is any indication.
The department which is responsible for keeping a check on weight, measurement, quality, quantity and duplicity has only one inspector to keep a watch on around 50,000 shops and commercial establishments in the city.
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 establishment, 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.
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.
Not that the department has not felt the dire need to have adequate staff strength and had initiated the process of direct recruitment in 2006 after Punjab expressed its inability to spare the services of its inspectors to serve in Chandigarh on deputation due to acute staff shortage.
Prior to that these posts were filled on deputation from the states of Punjab and Haryana in the ratio of 60:40 as per the instructions issued by the Chandigarh administration vide orders issued on January 21, 2003.
The department invited applications by giving advertisement in newspapers and around 16 applications were received and a total of seven candidates were recommended by the employment exchange.
However, even nearly after eight years the process is still lying pending for approval of selection from the UT home department.
A senior official said the matter had been taken up with the higher authorities on several occasions to explain that one inspector was incapable of handling the work under present scenario, which required at least 20 inspectors.
City-based social activist RK Garg said, “Staff shortage in such an important department makes it evident how serious is the administration about the rights of consumers.”
NO AUDIT SINCE 2009
As per rules, the scrutiny of the annual accounts of the government department is mandatory. However, the department has failed to get its accounts audited since 2009.
Despite attempts, controller of weights and measures Mahavir Kaushik was not available for comments.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
# Verification of weights, measures, weighting and measuring instruments used by commercial establisments.
# 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 LPG at bottling plant or retail outlets.
# Checking of packaged commodities being offered for sale by commercial establishments.