KOCHI: After the central and state governments included masks, sanitisers and bottled water in the essential commodity category after Covid-19 outbreak, the Legal Metrology Department is on its toes to prevent traders from charging more on these items. The department’s central zone which has jurisdiction in central Kerala has registered 83 cases from March 17 to April 6 with regard to such violations. The government had capped the maximum retail price of hand sanitisers at `100 per 200 ml bottle till June 30 this year. Similarly, the prices of two-ply surgical masks and three-ply surgical masks were fixed at `8 and 10 per piece. The Kerala government also included bottled water in the essential commodity list and directed traders not to charge above Rs 13 for a litre of water. However, several traders were found violating the norms. As per the data, Legal Metrology Department’s central zone with jurisdiction over Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Idukki districts has registered 36 cases for overcharging masks and sanitisers during inspections carried out from March 17 to April 6. As many as 47 cases were registered for selling bottled water at an exorbitant rate during raids carried out since March 20. In total, 1,165 inspections were carried out by Legal Metrology Department in four central Kerala districts. “On an average, 30 cases each were registered in Ernakulam, Thrissur and Palakkad districts. It was found that despite the warning issued, the traders were still selling the essential products including sanitisers and masks at a higher price. We register a case under Packaged Commodity Rules against traders found flouting the norms. A fine of `5,000 is imposed on each partner of the business establishment. If the offence is repeated, we will initiate steps to prosecute the violator,” R Ram Mohan, Joint Controller, Legal Metrology, said. Inspection at Ration shops Following numerous complaints that ration shops are engaged in weight manipulation, Legal Metrology Department has initiated inspections since the beginning of April. Till now 17 cases have been registered for weight manipulation by ration shops in central Kerala. Similarly, eight cases are registered against traders for not using calibrated weighing machines and not possessing the certificate issued by Legal Metrology Department for each weighing machine. “We have two dedicated squads in each district to conduct checks daily. If we receive complaints, more officers will be deployed. The public can contact our office in case any trader overcharges on essential goods or if any another manipulation is suspected,” he said.
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