After capping the price of movie tickets, the Karnataka government has decided to intensify its crackdown on the selling of water bottles at prices higher than the MRP in multiplexes, hotels, restaurants, airports and malls.
A two-day special drive was launched to curb the sale of packaged drinking water at inflated prices on May 3. Officials from Legal Metrology and the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department of Karnataka, raided nearly 295 shops and outlets, and registered 73 cases against the owners for selling water at a price more than the MRP.
U T Khader, Food and Civil Supplies minister said that 47 teams were involved in the crackdown across the state, including eight teams in Bengaluru. They conducted raids simultaneously throughout the day in Belagavi, Hubballi, Haveri, Kalaburagi, Mysuru, Udupi, Mangaluru, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, and Madikeri.
While a sum of Rs. 2,000 was collected as fine from each of the 73 shops and outlets booked, the minister also warned them of future violations that would result in criminal cases to be filed against them. If found guilty they could be imprisoned for up to 6 months along with the revocation of their licenses.
The owners were booked under the Packaged Legal Metrology Act, 2011.
The Legal Metrology Directorate, following the receipt of several complaints from consumers that packaged drinking water and cold drinks in malls, airports, restaurants and multiplexes are being sold at much higher prices, has directed all state governments to check this unfair trade practice by intensifying their vigilance.
“In most places, they were charging Rs 50 for a water bottle when the price is actually Rs 20. In an outlet in UB City, a Rs 45 bottle of Bisleri water was being sold at Rs 119, and another brand, which is also priced at Rs 45, was being sold at Rs 179. This is more than double the amount and a clear violation of the rule,” said Minister Khader as reported by The News Minute. “They cannot be charging exorbitantly for water. We will also take action against establishments which prevent people from carrying water inside their premises.”
He further added that his department will issue a directive which says that people should be allowed to bring their own water bottles in movie theatres. Terming the printing of two different MRPs for the same product as “illegal”, the minister warned the companies taking advantage of the loopholes in the Essential commodities. “The state government will soon request the Centre to bring bottled water under the purview of the act,” he said.
The minister encouraged people to file complaints against establishments charging exorbitant prices with the consumer forum.
Earlier this year in February, the legal metrology team had fined a hotel Rs 20,000 in Hyderabad for overcharging on water bottles in their restaurant.
The Logical Indian welcomes the Karnataka government’s initiative to eradicate unfair trade practices by different sellers. Consumers across the country have been complaining about overcharging prices of packaged drinking water and soft drinks, and it is commendable that the state government took speedy action in this regard.