Market inspectors destroy inedible products, but let sellers walk away scot-free
SURKHET, Aug 7: A market monitoring team here on Tuesday burnt various inedible products that they found while inspecting the market, but allowed the traders selling those products walk away scot-free.
Interestingly, the local authority attributed its act of destroying the inedible products as punishment in itself. “For now, this is the punishment,” assistant CDO of Surkhet and coordinator of the monitoring team, said.
“If the shopkeepers repeated the mistake, then we will take action against them.”
Bhesh Bahadur Thapa, district food inspector, said currently they have started the process of corrective action. “It is difficult to take legal action due to practical difficulties. We burnt lots of inedible goods and this is also a punishment,” added Thapa.
During market monitoring conducted over the past few days, the team had seized expired food items, rotten items and products without expiry date.
“Not only rotten rice and lentils, we also found expired glucose and packed fish,” said Akashtara Bayak, district president of National Consumer Forum.
“The team, however, took corrective action only.” He further added that punitive action should be taken against the wrongdoers from now onwards.
Though government officials said punitive action will be taken if the mistake is repeated, consumer right activists say the team has not inspected shops that have already been inspected.
“If the team punishes the wrongdoer when inspected for the first time, other will also be responsible,” said Laxmi Bhandari, a consumer of Latikoili-9. “As the inspection team only issues warning to wrongdoers, it increases the morale of wrongdoers. This will further worsen the situation.”
As per the Food Act 1967, traders found selling substandard food items can be fined Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 for the first time. If it is repeated, the wrongdoer has to pay fine of Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 or face imprisonment for 6 months to 1 year or both. The Act does not allow officials to let wrongdoers walk away scot-free.
Advocate Durga Prasad Sapkota termed the decision to provide immunity to the wrongdoers as irresponsible.