TOGETHERVCAN’S SOCIAL SANCHAR WITH SHRI SANJAY PANDEY
On 3rd July 2015, we held our fourth Social Sanchar with Dr. Sanjay Pandey, Controller, Legal Metrology Organization (LMO).
The LMO plays a very significant role in our lives as we regularly face problems regarding areas such as overcharging above the Maximum Retail Price (MRP), a reduced supply of consumable products like toothpaste, along with short supply of petrol and diesel, rigging of auto and taxi meters, discrepancies in the measurement of flats in terms of sq. ft. area, accuracy of weigh-bridges etc.
In his introduction, Dr. Sanjay Pandey said that Legal Metrology is an area which impinges upon every person in his day to day activities and is probably the only Act which covers such a wide spectrum of person’s daily life. He said as an example that whether you are eating something, purchasing something small from a shop, or purchasing real estate, Legal Metrology comes in everywhere.
Today, one of the most common issues the Legal Metrology Organisation deals with is the MRP of packaged commodities. The biggest such commodity in the news these days is Milk and attracts a huge number of complaints. They are trying to implement the MRP laws that would address these problems concerning Milk as well as many other products like mineral water, biscuits etc.
Dr. Pandey made a particular mention on how the weighbridges play a role in the issues related to Road Safety. In fact he emphasized that maximum accidents occur on Highways due to over loading of vehicles. He also stated that for the first time, the LMO was conducting the calibration of Auto rickshaw and taxi meters. The Legal Metrology Act is most stringent regarding meter tampering.
He also discussed issues involving SIM Cards and Recharge Cards, Real Estate, Medical Labs, Petrol and Diesel among others.
Mr. Pandey was very enthusiastic in responding to the overwhelming number of questions put up by Citizens online as well as by the in house audience. A few are given below:
Q) How can one take action against faulty meters at petrol pumps which give less quantities of fuel to customers?
Ans: The Petrol Sensing Units that are purchased are proven for 5 liters of petrol, which means if you purchase less than five liters of petrol, even the companies which purchase this particular sensing unit give no guarantee that you are getting exact measures.
In simple terms, when the fluid comes out of the nozzle, it requires up to five litres for it to develop the right velocity. So for an amount like twenty-three liters, I think you should get it accurately, but the technology being what it is I would not guarantee even that.
Essentially, the issue is a matter of technology. Currently there are two main technologies – One uses an LED (Light Emending Diode) base, and consists of holes in a circle, which are moved when the petrol flows out and activates a light meter. This is a very old technology. The new technology uses Magnetic Pulsars, and is much more accurate. Unfortunately, this technology is not being utilized in India today. As a result of this, it becomes difficult to ensure the accuracy of meter readings, especially for volumes under 5 litres. The Government is trying to address this, but there is no short term solution.
Q) Reforms are urgently required in Maharashtra to protect the interest of investors in real-estate, how do you aim to achieve this?
Ans: Rules regarding real estate have been proposed and have been sent to Central Government for approval under the provisions of the Legal Metrology Act. The concurrence of Central Government is required to make the rules applicable and that part is happening.
Whenever the complains come, we have the taken action, as per records so far we have taken action against thirteen companies all over Maharashtra. Primarily Bombay is the main concern; New Bombay is another area where we have maximum building activity going on. I urge investors and citizens who have faced problems to come forward and register their complaints so that we can help them and take action.
Q) I just want to know the electric meter may be digital or electro dynamic meters can fall under this purview. If so, then the question is – how to ensure the calibration at various small residence restricts?
Ans. Energy meters are not at the moment covered by the Legal Metrology though the energy meters fall very much within the definition of any weight or measure use for transaction. It falls within the definition but here we have referred the matter to the parent body in Delhi. All over India this particular part has not been given to Legal Metrology and I cannot give the reasons for it.
Q) How do we know that meters at GAS station/petrol pump are not tampered and we get the exact quantities worth the money we pay? There should be some kind of certification as these meters have been checked for quality control by some Regulating Authority.
Ans. The pulsars at petrol pumps are first sealed by us and then they are installed. Seal means put a lead seal on top of it. They are supposedly not open and they are not supposed to be tampered with, if they tamper with it, it is serious offence. The information we have is that the old meters, which allow opening of the front board without any kind of dredging of a seal, allow certain chip to be installed to make sure that the reading goes up and down and because of that we have said that the technology needs to change.
Measurement in the matter of the tanker, is through dipping a rod. Say the tanker capacity is five thousand liters, the process for the dipping rod is by first putting water in the tanker and then dipping the rod and marking it, and then the petrol fellow fills it with flow meter and then the tanker goes. The dipping rod which had marked also goes along with the tanker. In this type of process, right from the beginning, the dealers themselves claim to have got less petrol and try to use this as a justification to give the guy at the end less petrol.
Q) Recently we travelled from Bombay to Pune and on the way, we stopped for a cup of coffee. I bought an item which was marked maximum price ninety rupees and the shopkeeper insisted on me paying him hundred rupees. Eventually, we made a deal ninety-five rupees, but it was more than the maximum retail price.
Ans. I had mentioned that Legal Metrology has a pervasive role in day to day life. The issue with these kinds of incidents is that if the Law states the maximum punishment I can give to the person who is overcharging you is Rs. Two Thousand, then he will just pay it whenever he is caught and keep overcharging people.
What we have proposed is that repeated instances of this should be a cognizable offence i.e. it should be a bailable offence in first time and second time offence should be non-bailable. That’s what we have proposed, I hope that it gets to see the light of day.
Q) What is the expectation of your department from the Citizens?
Ans. The expectation from Citizen is that, you should inform us. Our department, does not even require you to complain, just information of wrongdoing is enough. You could just inform our control room. We have also started out WhatsApp Group number. Sometimes there could be a delay, but we will certainly take an action. Particularly for the schools, let me tell you that, we have taken action on some school recently for selling notebook without a printed price.
I would say that be vigilant and try to lodge a complaint or inform us. You don’t have to bother about disclosing any particulars of your identity but obviously, if complaints are in relation to real estate kind then documents will be required. However, for a packaged commodity, like notebook, mineral water, cold drink something like that you just need to inform us.
The Control Room number is – 22 88 66 66; WhatsApp Number is – 98696 91666
Q) In the near future, can you come out with a measurement for properties where by quantifying the fittings being used in a flat, like how many pipelines, electrical lines, locks, handles, bathroom fitting taps, these can be bought under the gambit of real estate measurements?
Ans. Just to inform you about the Act, it has a very wide definition of service. The suggestion which has come from you is great, provided the builder follows it. At our end what we can do is, put up a model contract. I will be in no position to enforce for each builder to come and sign only the model contract. Let it be kind of a chartered account contract, a contract in which somebody is going to provide you services in terms of same kind of agreed quantity or agreed number. I take your suggestion; we will probably work on it.
Q) Can you please elaborate the malpractices that occur at weigh-bridges?
Ans. The malpractices of the weighbridges, let me tell you this, where we would stand in the weighing technology in India. In the weighing technology this country only talks about an assembly of various equipment to make either a weighbridge or a table top scale or a platform a scale or whatever. The basic ingredient of the weighbridge is basically a load cell and the load cell does not get manufactured in India, barring a few manufacturers. The load cell is coming from China and that load cell never gets tested because that load cell is never registered or controlled by any of our acts.
One of the malpractices that happens in the weighbridges is that you have a load cell, it weighs about 20 tons but nobody tested it. So that’s one malpractice, that the load cell we do not know, just like the petrol pump pulsar. We do not know the load cell that well. Also, the restriction is that a person who provides the load cell should be the person who provides the chipset should be the person who provides the display unit and the software which goes in it. In India the malpractice is that all these three or four items are outsourced or probably sourced differently to people in different situation.
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