Metrology officials, who seized underweight fertilizer bags during surprise check in a few wholesale and retail shops recently, have initiated legal action against the traders for selling it to the farmers.

After ‘The Hindu’ carried a report on the sale of underweight fertilizer bags to the farmers, Minister for Labour S.T. Chellapandian, who had camped here on last Wednesday, ordered the officials attached to the Legal Metrology Wing of his department to conduct thorough enquiry into the episode by randomly checking the weight of the fertilizer bags being sold by the wholesale and retail traders. Subsequently, an inspection team, headed by Inspector of Labour and Deputy Controller of Legal Metrology J. Kalidas, was formed.

Under the Metrology Act 2009 and the Packaged Commodities Rule 2011, the team checked the weight of fertilizer bags being sold by four wholesale fertilizer dealers in and around Tirunelveli on Wednesday evening.

Different fertilizer products being manufactured / marketed by various companies were checked during this raid for the mandatory declaration to be printed on the fertilizer bags under the Packaged Commodities Rule 2011 and the bags were also tested for their correct net quantity as printed on them. The inspection revealed that two wholesale dealers had stocked in their shops underweight bags for sale.

As per the Packaged Commodities rules, the statistical average of the sample (32 bags) should be equal to or not less than the declared quantity and also no bag should show error in deficiency more than Maximum Permissible Error (Mpe). Thirty-two bags of Potash fertilizer, which were imported and packed by Indian Potash Limited (IPL), were checked for the declared net content of 50 kg.

It was found that the statistical average of the sample was 48 kg and 610 grams. i.e. each bag was short of 1.390 kg. And, all the 32 bags of fertilizer showed error in deficiency more than the Maximum Permissible Error of 500 gram.

Thirty-two bags of granulated fertilizer, being manufactured and packed by Greentech Fertilizers Corporation, were also checked for declared net content of 50 kg.

It was also found that the statistical average of the sample was 49 kg and 160 gram. i.e. each bag was short of 840 gram and 25 fertilizer bags showed error in deficiency more than Maximum Permissible Error of 500 gram.

“Legal action has been initiated against the dealers who sold the underweight fertilizer bags after seizing all 64 underweight bags, which is under our custody.

Farmers, who have to buy underweight fertilizer bags may file their complaints with Inspector of Labour at 106 District Inspector of Labour’s Office at 106, Thiruvananthapuram High Road, Palayamkottai,” said Mr. Kalidas, who ordered that underweight fertilizer bags should be sold as per the actual weight of the fertilizer in the bags and not on the basis of printed declared quantity.

“Those who don’t want to sell the underweight fertilizer bags may send it back to the manufacturer / packers. Those who defy these instructions will have to face serious legal consequences,” he warned.