Officials of the district administration inspect a shop selling acid in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
A majority of shops selling acid in Ranchi are not abiding by the guidelines laid down by the state government last October to prevent its misuse in accordance with a Supreme Court order.
The violations came to the fore during an inspection by a joint team of district officials and policemen, which served showcause notices to five of the six shops they visited on Thursday.
The team, comprising executive magistrate Ram Krishna Kumar, drug inspector Sujeet Kumar and a junior official, apart from around 10 policemen, also visited a seventh shop during the recce from 11am to 4pm. But it was shut.
Confirming the crackdown, sub-divisional magistrate of Ranchi Ameet Kumar said: “The shops have been given seven days to comply with the home department’s guidelines. The objective of the drive was to check illegal sale of acid.”
In keeping with the rules, a fine of Rs 50,000 will be slapped and stocks seized if the stores fail to abide by the norms.
The shops that are under the scanner are Capital Sports and Scientific, United Sports and Scientific, Lab Instruments and Chemical, Pretty Chemicals and George Scientific Store. Except George Scientific Store, which is located in RIADA industrial area in Kokar, others are on Main Road.
Capital Sports and Scientific, United Sports and Scientific, Lab Instruments and Chemical and George Scientific Store were pulled up for not maintaining a register for acid stocks. Pretty Chemical, apart from not having a stock register, lacked proper arrangements for hanging acid bottles.
The inspection team found that the store was selling acid without using apparatus like gloves and goggles for salesmen. A statutory warning that acid cannot be purchased by those below 18 was missing from all shops.
The only one to stick to the rulebook was Bhatia Sports and Scientific on Main Road.
“The team had gone to another shop, Cosmic Chemico and Company, as well. But it was told that the store downed shutters after the home department came out with its order,” Ameet Kumar said.
Sushil Bhatia, proprietor of Capital Sports and Scientific, said: “We are yet to get the showcause notice and will of course abide by all rules. The officials stayed in my shop for about 15 minutes, verifying cash memos and the identities of people who bought acid from us.”
The officials also made the shopkeepers aware of the dos and don’ts of selling and stocking acid.
The home department came out with the directive on October 21 last year to restrict availability of acid and prevent it from being used to terrorise and disfigure women with impunity.
According to the order, anyone under 18 cannot buy acid over the counter. Acid cannot be sold to anyone without a valid photo ID that has the buyers’ address.
Sellers will also have to furnish details of their acid stock to sub-divisional magistrate. Every education institution, hospital and laboratory that stores acid has to employ a person to monitor it.
What can be done to tighten the leash on shops selling acid irresponsibly?