Mishti may stop coming in bits and pieces. If the consumer affairs department has its way, buyers will soon have to ask for 250 g of rosogolla or 150 g of jolbhara sandesh, instead of the normal numbers.
The department has decided to ask all sweet-makers in the city to sell their products in terms of weight, not pieces.
“According to the Weights and Measures Act, it is mandatory for sweet-sellers to vend products by weight. As it is a central act, all traders are bound to abide by it,” said Ashok Bhattacharya, controller of legal metrology, consumer affairs department.
The act has already been implemented in Delhi, Mumbai and some other states, he added. “Earlier, nobody cared to enforce the law here, but now we are determined to introduce it,” announced Bhattacharya.
“Our move is aimed at saving customers from being cheated by a section of traders,” claimed consumer affairs minister Naren De. “Though the price of any sweet item remains fixed, the quantity can never be uniform. Besides, there are shop-owners who do not hike the price but reduce the size of the sandesh. The new rule will ensure that the customer is not deprived.’’
Consumer affairs department officials said they have already issued orders to sweet shops citing provisions of the law and urging them to follow the rules.
A fine of up to Rs 5,000 will be slapped on those violating rules. For committing the offence a second time, an offender faces imprisonment, officials warned.
“We will issue a final instruction at the end of this month, giving sweet-sellers a month’s time to change their system. We will start taking action immediately after the deadline expires,’’ said Bhattacharya.
The controller said the department would also advertise in newspapers and distribute leaflets among consumers to raise awareness about the rule.
The government, meanwhile, could leave a bitter taste in the mouth of a majority of the 30,000 sweet-sellers in the city.
General secretary of West Bengal Sweetmeat Sellers Association R.N. Pal said members have submitted a memorandum to the consumer affairs department, urging the authorities to relax the norms to save the trade.
“We are not opposing the move and are bound to follow the rules, but we have requested officials to take all aspects into consideration before taking any step,’’ said Pal, also the owner of Hindusthan Sweets.
According to Pal, all sweetmeat sellers have to sell a variety of syrupy sweets, like rosogolla and pantua, and it was “very difficult” to weigh these “rosher mishti”.
“There will invariably be differences between sellers and customers over the syrup content. Besides, it will take a lot of time to weigh and sell each and every item, and business will be hampered,’’ pointed out Pal.
Slamming the doors on syrupy arguments, deputy controller of consumer affairs department S.K. Jana said if sweet shops in the districts could follow the rules, those in the city must follow suit.