KATHMANDU, Feb 23: Taking advantage of the weak market monitoring, illegal businesses of food and medicine have been rampant even in the Kathmandu Valley and its adjoining locations, shows the report of the government authorities mandated to look after consumers' protection.
Market monitoring conducted by the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection (DoCSCP) and the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) unveiled the unhealthy practices that have posed risks to the consumers, despite the government's repeated commitment to safeguard consumer rights. The Constitution has also maintained the safety of consumers as the fundamental right.
The DoCSCP report of market monitoring conducted last week shows that the department slapped cash fine of Rs 200,000 on eatery shops and pharmaceuticals for not having the operating licenses. According to the department, even the canteen that is in operation at the premises of the Ministry of Finance has not been following the government regulation.
The department in cross inspection of the canteen on Thursday had traced the flaws in the outlet that supplies food to the officials of the government's imperative organ. For the reason, the market regulator fined Rs 50,000 against Catalyst Management Service, the canteen operator. Earlier too, the department had grilled the outlet on charges of selling substandard foods.
Similarly, the DoCSCP imposed Rs 50,000 in fine on Mahanagar Investment and Trading Pvt Ltd that has been operating a mart business in Bhaisepati, Lalitpur. Likewise, BBR Enterprise, a drugs store in Chhetrapati, was slapped with cash fine of Rs 100,000 for similar charge.
In the market inspection carried out last week, the department has collected cumulative of Rs 445,000 in cash fines from the unscrupulous traders. Apart from not having registrations, many of them did not maintain the invoices to cheat the buyers. Motherland Health Care and Counseling Centre in Thankot has been slapped Rs 200,000 for charging exorbitant price compared to the maximum retail price listed in the medicine it sold. Chaitya Pharma, Nepal Samudayik Swasthya Tatha Bikas Kendra, Ayusha Surgical, Alka Dental Home in Balaju and Sushrut Ayurved Pharmacy in Mid Baneshwor were among those taken action by the market regulator.
In separate incidents, the DFTQC had found one-third of the eatery shops in Tribhuvan Highway running their business without receiving the licenses. Similarly, even those which have operating licenses had failed to maintain proper hygiene and food quality. Of 37 such outlets cross-checked by the DFTQC, only 11 received the green stickers which ensure that the foods they sell are safe. While 14 outlets were marked with yellow stickers showing the poor quality of their products, remaining 12 shops were found selling foods unfit for consumption.
Madhav Timilsina, president of Consumer Right Investigation Forum, who also joined the market monitoring team of the DFTQC, said that the seasonal inspections that are conducted only during the festivals have led to the malpractices in the highway based hotels. “In addition, the authorities should strictly implement provision of the stickers to mark the standards of the eatery outlets,” Timilsina said.