Acid freely sold at city shops

Jul 18, 2013, 01:22 IST | Nigel Buthello

With govt drafting rules to control acid sale after a spate of acid attacks, MiD DAY does a spot check to find out how easy it is to purchase a bottle of the caustic substance in the city

With the disturbing trend of acid attacks on women in the country on the rise, the government, after considerable nudging from the Supreme Court, has proposed strict measures to curb the sale, in a bid to regulate sale and keep tabs on who purchases acid and for what.

Location 1:
Prabhat Hardware Store, Dockyard Road
When this reporter asked the shopkeeper for acid, he did not ask for any proof of identity or address, let alone the contact number. The only question the shopkeeper had was: how much quantity. Without further ado, the acid exchanged hands.

The Centre has decided to treat acid at par with other poisonous substances, and the rules will soon be notified by the home ministry. 

Location 2:
Deepak Hardware Store, Mazgaon

The storeowners are well aware of the guidelines that an acid buyer needs to show identity and address proofs, sources said. But when asked for a bottle, they were prompt to tell this reporter its cost and quickly conducted the transaction, no questions asked.

To begin with, stores that intend to sell acids such as hydrochloric and sulphuric acids will now have to procure a licence. The vendors will have to ask the buyer for identity proof, address proof and personal phone number. If a customer wants to buy a specific type of acid, they will have to divulge why, along with the necessary details.

Location 3:
United Home Hardware Store, Byculla

The shopkeeper asked the reason for the purchase and then showed the reporter two brands. He did not bother with any proof.

All buyers and sellers of acid will have to go through this procedure, as per the rules.

Location 4:
Jogeshwar Hardware Store, Lalbaug

The same story; the shopkeeper asked for the quantity of acid and sold it, without asking any further questions.

MiD DAY visited a few stores that sell acids to see if they were aware of the guidelines.

But the field trips revealed that buying acid was like getting an over-the-counter drug -- hassle-free. None of the shops demanded any type of proof, in utter oblivion of the concerns of the court and the government.

The estimated number of acid attacks in the country in a year

Rules for acid sale
Last week, the Supreme Court gave the Centre a one-week ultimatum to come up with steps to regulate the sale of acid before it takes matters in its own hands. In response, the Centre on Tuesday drafted rules under the Poison Act:
>> Sellers must demand ID and address proofs of the buyer, in addition to their telephone number and reason for purchasing acid.
>> Only licensed vendors will be permitted to sell acid
>> Acid will not be sold to anyone below the age of 18.
>> Shops will be required to keep a daily record of quantity of sales and buyers.  

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