Malls penalised for charging ‘multiplex’ rate for water

If the Food and Civil Supplies Department has its way, soon you may not have to pay excess (double or more than the MRP) for bottled drinking water in malls and multiplexes.

Taking on outlets in malls and multiplexes that sell bottled drinking water at exorbitant rates, the Departments of Legal Metrology and the Department of Food and Civil Supplies conducted 295 raids across the State on Wednesday, booking 73 cases. As many as 39 teams went to work across Karnataka, including eight teams in Bengaluru.

The raids were conducted simultaneously throughout the day in Belagavi, Hubballi, Haveri, Kalaburagi, Mysuru, Udupi, Mangaluru, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Madikeri as well.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister U.T. Khader said that people are being forced to buy the bottles, which cost Rs. 20 outside, for Rs. 50 or so in malls and multiplexes. “There cannot be dual MRP for the same product. Moreover, the mall management does not allow people to carry their own bottles inside. This is a violation of consumer rights. We have taken serious note of this and are working on correcting it,” he said.

Pointing out that there are some loopholes in the Essential Commodities Act, he said there is no clarity on dual MRP. “Moreover, while all food items fall under the purview of the Act, drinking water is left out. We will write to the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry asking for inclusion of drinking water under the Act. We will also explore legal ways of ensuring people are allowed to carry their water bottles inside malls and multiplexes,” he said.

While a sum of Rs. 2,000 has been slapped on each of the 73 shops and outlets booked, the Minister said if they are caught violating the law again, it would be a criminal offence entailing imprisonment of up to six months.

The Minister also said consumers can also file complaints with the Legal Metrology Department or the consumer court if they are sold food items at exorbitant prices.

No change in ticket rates

Meanwhile, cine goers were left disappointed on Wednesday with multiplexes and single screens not implementing the government order capping ticket prices at Rs. 200.

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