Authorities’ crackdown on malls and multiplexes selling bottled drinking water at high rates

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You may soon not have to pay more than double the MRP for packaged drinking water in upscale malls and multiplexes. Soon after passing putting a cap of Rs 200 on movie ticket price, the Karnataka govt. has come down heavily on malls and multiplexes that charge high rates for bottled drinking water. U T Khader, state Food and Civil Supplies Minister,

said that malls and multiplexes in Bangalore were raided and found to be selling bottled drinking water for Rs 50 a bottle, while the regular price or MRP of the same is Rs 20, and people have no option to buy these, since they are not allowed to carry their own bottles of water inside such places.

On Wednesday, 39 teams comprising of officials from the Department of Legal Metrology carried out raids on shops, multiplexes and malls in Bangalore urban and rural, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Hubballi, Haveri, Udupi, Mangaluru, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Madikeriand, simultaneously and through the entire day. Khader said “We have conducted raids in 188 places across the state and have registered 46 cases.” He said that the action had to be taken because there had been numerous complaints about establishments charging exorbitantly for drinking water. Among other places, more notable venues in the city that were raided include Forum Mall, Garuda Mall, Gopalan Mall, Mantri Mall, Orion Mall, Sigma Mall and UB City.

Legal Metrology Controller P R Shiva Prasad said that the maximum number of cases was registered in Belagavi (17) and Kalburgi (15) districts, while Mysuru district accounted for the lowest number of cases (2). Under the Legal metrology Packaged Commodity Rules (PCR) amended in 2016 by the Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ministry, overcharging of mineral water is a violation of law, and establishments charging high rates for food and water will have to pay a fine of Rs 2000 for a first time offence while subsequent offence would call for 6 months of jail. Pointing out that drinking water is not there on the list of essential commodities, Khader said that he would soon write to the Central govt. to include water on the list to protect consumers from being exploited.

He added ‘They cannot be charging exorbitantly for water. We will also take action against establishments which prevent people from carrying water inside their premises’. Expensive restaurants and hotels will also be targeted soon, according to Khader. He said that there is no clarity ion dual MRP of bottled water owing to some loopholes in the Essential Commodities Act. He said that legal ways will be made to ensure that people are allowed to carry their own bottles of water inside malls and multiplexes. He said that consumers have the right to file complaints with the Legal Metrology Department against establishments that sell food items at exorbitant prices.

However, multiplexes and single screens have not implemented the govt. order of capping movie ticket prices at Rs 200, which left movie buffs disappointed on Wednesday.

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