KATHMANDU, July 6: Market monitoring officials were in for a surprise when they reached Balkhu Vegetables Market on Tuesday for market inspection.
Traders there not only opposed the monitoring but also tried to prevent market inspectors from seizing substandard weighing machines.
“They protested when our team tried to confiscate substandard weighing machines,” Laxman Shrestha, director of Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM), told Republica.
After a long discussion, the protesting traders agreed to allow NBSM to take the substandard weighing machines on condition that it will check them and return to them within three days.
The government sent the monitoring team to the privately-owned vegetables market after it received host of complaints from consumers. Consumers mainly complained of substandard weighing machines. They also questioned the quality of vegetables and fruits sold at the market, according to an official of Ministry of Supplies. Most of the traders were found using electric weighing machines without certifying them from NBSM, the official added.
Shrestha said that the seized weighing machines have been taken to the bureau for quality test. “The traders will get the machines after the bureau certifies that they meet the standards set by the government,” he added.
Earlier on Monday morning, the market inspection team, including Minister of Supplies Ganesh Man Pun, had also monitored the Kalimati Vegetables Market. Pun returned after inspecting the Kalimati Vegetables Market, whereas the market monitoring team went to monitor Balkhu Vegetables Market.
The market currently is flush with low quality and chemical-injected fruits and vegetables which are unhygienic. But consumers have no option but to buy them, that too at higher price, as the government has been doing nothing to control such practices. On one hand the Department of Commerce claims that it lacks manpower for effective market monitoring, and on the other lack of strong legal arrangements for such 'severe crimes' is encouraging traders to play with health of consumers.