* State dumping ground of expired products as racketeers operate with impunity
* Horlicks, chocolates, biscuits, jam, soft drinks… me it, the gangs repackage it for sale
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, May 22: Assam has become the dumping ground for consumer products long past expiry dates, with racketeers repackaging such products under the nose of the State administration.
A raid at a godown located at Gorchuk area of the city has brought to light one such massive racket supplying expired consumer products after repackaging to retailers across the State, mostly in rural areas.
The godown of ‘Glorious Impex’ belongs to one Ranjit Kumar Badani who has been arrested by sleuths of the crime branch.
Cartons of various consumer products, including health products like Horlicks, ORS, soft drinks, fruit juices, chocolates, jam, biscuits etc were found stacked in the godown. There are at least six rooms in the godown, all filled with various consumer goods suspected to be past their expiry dates.
The police have called in a team of food inspectors to test the products. “We have seized samples of fruit juice, chips, tomato sauce etc and have sent them to the Bamunimaidam laboratory for alysis. All were branded products of popular companies. It is suspected that the labels showing the expiry date are being tampered with and then supplied to retailers,” said Food Safety Officer Champak Pathak.
Police have also arrested four persons, including the owner, from the godown. DCP (crime) Swapneel Deka said the racketeers were involved in collection of expired products from markets outside the State. “They used to get these expired items from as far as Delhi. There are dealers gangs in Delhi who trade these expired products at less than half the price. At the godown, they used to remove the expiry date labels and then mark the products with new expiry dates. For this, the accused also brought a MRP printing machine worth Rs 75,000,” Deka said.
Later, the products were supplied to retailers at very nomil prices, though the minimum retail price remained the same.
The DCP said the racket is suspected to have been going on for the last two years.
Following detection of the racket, there is now concern among the public, wondering how such a racket could thrive in the capital city itself.
“It is really shocking. I wonder where the fake goods were supplied and where are they being sold now. I just hope I am not using any such dangerous products,” said Kalyani Baruah, a housewife in Guwahati.
Another city consumer, Rakesh Paul, was also jittery on hearing about the racket. “This has posed a threat to the health of the people, especially children. It is only because of a lax administration and police machinery that such rackets are mushrooming in the State. The government should take serious note of such frauds and give harsh punishment to the culprits. The last thing one can compromise with is one’s health,” he said.
Sources said leads received during the investigations have pointed at the involvement of some distributors hand-in-glove with such fraudsters and were trading in such expired products.
Earlier, the police had also busted a gang in Guwahati involved in making fake consumer goods like shampoos and toothpastes.