GUWAHATI, Sept 6 - Have you ever verified if the weight of the packaged commodity you bought from a store matches the price and weight on the label? Or, have you wondered if the weighing machine at the grocery shop from where you purchase your monthly ration could be faulty?
Well, if you are only worried about the prevailing price rise, there is some more disturbing news for you.
Inspectors in the legal metrology department have detected some glaring disparity in the scales and weighing systems of stores across the State, besides stumbling upon discrepancies in the packaged products.
Over 500 cases of violation of the Legal Metrology Act had been registered by the legal metrology department in the last financial year.
Altogether 281 cases relate to discrepancies in the weighing systems and another 218 cases relate to disparity in packaged items. In the second category, irregularities were found in the MRP as well as weight of the packaged commodity. Most violations were detected in Guwahati.
Official sources said 255 cases were "departmentally compromised" and corrective measures taken by the erring traders, while the rest have been forwarded to the court. Fines to the tune of Rs 20 lakh were imposed on the erring traders during the year, official sources said.
The traders are required to renew their weighing machines every two years through personnel of the legal metrology department. But inspectors of the department, during random checks, have come across many violations.
"Owing to constant use the weighing machines wear and tear very fast. If the machines are used to weigh commodities like fish, they get damaged even faster. The machines should be renewed after every two years. Our officers check and certify every measuring device used for trade and commerce. A nominal fee is charged for the renewal," an official of the legal metrology department told The Assam Tribune.
"Our intention is not to slap fines, but to ensure that the traders take the necessary measures and adhere to the norms so that customers are not affected," the official said.
The official said discrepancies were even found in fuel refill stations. "Though it is not easy to tamper with the fuel measuring machine, the service boys sometimes try to dupe unsuspecting customers through various manipulating techniques," the official said.
Meanwhile, official sources said shortage of manpower and infrastructure has hit functioning of the legal metrology department.
There are a total of 65 sanctioned posts of inspectors in the department, and nineteen of them are vacant.
Districts like Darrang and Chirang do not have a single inspector; the posts are being held additionally by an inspector of a neighbouring district. Around 122 third and fourth grade category posts are vacant. The posts of four deputy controllers are also vacant, affecting functioning of the vital department.