The city came to a standstill a few months ago when fuel stations struck work after a crackdown by the Legal Metrology Department on some of them for cheating the public. The showdown followed the discovery that oil companies were not following rules in procuring and operating dispensing units.
S. Gopal Reddy, Controller at the department, who was in the thick of action during the drive, tells YUNUS Y. LASANIA more about the episode, and also about why people need to be more aware while purchasing anything involving weights, measures and quantity.
What exactly was the issue with petrol pumps and oil companies? Has the matter been resolved now?
The problem with oil companies was that they were supposed to use models of dispensing units that were approved by the Director of Legal Metrology, New Delhi – they did not do that. And then, there were issues pertaining to the import of those machines.
Petrol pumps should not cheat people by giving them lesser fuel than what they pay for. S
ince oil companies purchased the dispensing units, it is their responsibility too. They have filed a case in the Delhi High Court and the matter is pending. Also, an oil company filed a petition on the same issue in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, but it was dismissed.
Your department had set up a helpline for citizens to complain. What has been the response?
It is generating some response from people, and we also take action based on complaints. The most common complaints now are about extra charge on water and soft drinks in shops and cinema halls.
How do you think outlets and business can be stopped from cheating people?
It is not so easy, because such things are not easily detectable.
For example, a jeweller will change the settings in his machine to cheat customers while selling gold. Customers wouldn’t know what is happening.
Companies that manufacture weights and measures must make products that cannot be easily tampered with.
Do you think there is awareness among people about such issues?
People are becoming aware now, but it will still take time for citizens to know about these things. However, we are seeing some positive changes.
How effective do you think your department has been?
There are lakhs of businesses out there. It takes time to end malpractices, and we are doing our best.