Taking advantage of the coronavirus threat, instances of unauthorized online trading and selling of substandard food and ‘mineral’ water are on the rise
KATHMANDU, July 25: The Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection on Friday slapped a cash penalty of Rs 300,000 against Bhatbhateni Supermarket on the charge of selling substandard drinking water.
According to the department, the supermarket was found selling expired bottled water from the ‘Belly’ brand. The regulator said it took action against the firm in accordance with Section 16 (2) (a), Section 39 (1) (b) and Section 38 (e) of the Consumer Protection Act 2018.
The department has gone into action against one of the largest retail chain stores of the country based on the direct instruction from the Commerce Minister Lekh Raj Bhatta. Last Wednesday, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies purchased the bottled water from the Anamnagar unit of the store. Bhatbhateni Supermarket fell into the trap after the date-expired bottled water went into the notice of the Commerce Minister Bhatta.
Bhatbhateni Supermarket from time on time has fallen into controversies for being involved in market misconduct. In many cases in the past too, mainly the edibles sold out from the retail chain were found to have contained pests or were spoiled enough to pose risk to consumers’ health.
Last April, the supermarket was fined Rs 300,000 for selling daily essentials at prices higher than the stated prices of the goods. Taking advantage of the lockdown, it had been found taking double the price than the normal rate in a number of food items.
Following the incident of the drinking water, the department last week came down heavily on the producers of bottled water who have been neglecting the state’s law. In its drive, the department slapped a cash fine of Rs 200,000 each against Bibhuti Water and Beverages Pvt Ltd in Dhapakhel, Lalitpur and Parivansha Mahat Water Udyog, Kathmandu. The companies have been charged with failing to maintain hygiene in their water filling units and not issuing bills while selling their products.
The regulator also sealed the Dhapakhel-based Camp Water and Pachali Bhairav Water Processing Ugyog and Sapantirtha Beverage Pvt Ltd, Sandesh Mineral Water, Budhanilkantha Mineral Water and Pashupati Spring Water Udyog operating in Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu, for failing to abide by the government rules. Likewise, Greenland Mineral Water and Beverage Pvt Ltd and Aqua Sanjiwani Water Purification Industries in Tokha, Kathmandu, were among the drinking water businesses grilled by the department during the period.
According to the department, a number of these companies have been doing their businesses without taking the operating license or had failed to register their trademarks at the government authority. The regulator says it has asked these companies to come up with clarifications within seven days.
Last week, the department also took action against groceries including Ayumi Himalayan Agro Pvt Ltd, Krishna Khadda Suppliers, Om Shiva Store and New Krishna Store in Lalitpur and Food and Allied Store in Kathmandu-10, for selling date-expired food.
In a separate incident, the department grilled Kathmandu-based online trading companies for doing business without taking operating licenses. According to the department, it fined a cash penalty of Rs 50,000 against each of Offering Happiness and Socheko.com Pvt Ltd. Likewise, the regulator also imposed a cash fine of Rs 100,000 on Bambashala Pvt Ltd for a similar offense.