We have grown up nursing nearly an unshakable belief that mandatory annual verification of weighing machines is the guarantor of accuracy in weighing results. It is a fool proof enforcement that safeguards consumer interests.
On deeper analysis it appears that the belief is mythical.
- Protection of consumer rights is not an annual affair. It needs to be ensured every day and every minute. Then, how can once a year event of verification safeguard such rights.
- Diagnosis and treatment of any error / drift in calibration cannot wait for an annual event of verification. It has to be attended to then and there by qualified technicians.
- Sustained Accuracy of weighing equipment depends upon daily upkeep and regular maintenance.
- Preventive maintenance is an ideal way to ward off incorrect weighments/drifts/break downs and disruptions in operation.
- Estimated ratio of Legal Metrology Officers to weighing machines is 1: > 110000
- Verification and Stamping is one of the job roles of LMOs beyond a dozen more related to measurements by mass. Besides, they have to enforce Consumer Protection Rules, Package and Commodity Rules, Numeration Rules and much more.
- Recognition of resource scarcity gave birth to GATC Rules 2013 involving 3rd party certification, supposedly to remedy long wait time, capital blockage and operational disruptions.
- Government Approved Test Center Rules never took off and kept on adding numbers to its age. It is now >10 years old and continues to be non-functional for want of its rational alignment to the times and the methodology adopted.
- Highest degree of weighing precision is required in case of Scientific research labs and manufacture of arms and ammunition for defence use. Verification is exempted for both these activities as per the Legal Metrology Act 2009. Consistent and sustained accuracy on day to day basis is ensured by regular, effective and preventive maintenance.
- Therefore, answer lies in presenting self-certified machines conforming to standards laid down in Legal Metrology Rules, to the Regulator as and when they visit for inspection. This will also bring us nearer to some international practices. Enforcement Rules also mandate such inspections to happen frequently.
- Focus needs to shift from ritual of annual verification to delivering consistent and sustained accuracy continually. This is the only effective way to serve consumers and safe guard their interests.
- Application of one nation one standard for testing of mass measuring machines will further plug the loop holes of discretion, non-uniformity and subjectivity. Regulatory costs will come down considerably besides minimizing the feared potential for rent seeking.
- Revenue on account of Govt Fee can be generated when LMO physically inspects the machine in use. Direct online fund transfer to Government account via electronic link will be much in line with our Digital India programme.