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Best of 2021: Fake products dominate Nepal’s consumer market

During a market monitoring in Salyantar the Dhading district, assistant chief district officer Gokarna Prasad Upadhyaya saw something that startled him. There was a bottle of cold beverage that looked like Coca-Cola. To make sure that it was Coca-Cola, he asked the shopkeeper for one. When he got the bottle in his hand, he was shocked as it was ‘Cold Cola’, a fake version of Coca-Cola that looked exactly like the international brand.

“This was shocking,” he wrote on Facebook. “If you don’t look at it properly, anyone can mistake it for Coca-Cola.”

It was not just Coke. Other beverages also had their cheap lookalikes with almost similar names. Fanta had become Fantu and Funny, Sprite had become Sport and Strike while Mountain Dew had become Maintain Dew.

“These bottles have the same packaging, design, font and colour. What was shocking was these drinks were produced in Dhading itself,” he writes.

A few days later on June 9, Prem Lal Maharjan, a consumer rights activist posted a similar photo. In the photo, he questioned why Bikaji’s and Century’s Bikaneri bhujia looked the same. He also posted how Century’s Kurmure and Pepsi Co’s Kurkure looked similar.

“If anything happens to anyone due to these ‘fake’ products, who will be responsible,” he wrote on Facebook.

These two examples shed light on how poor consumer and industrial laws in the country have resulted in an increase of fake and substandard goods in the market. After these examples made the rounds on social media, people have also started to question if the everyday products that they use are fake like the bottle of Coca-Cola found in Dhading. Even officials involved in monitoring shops for these fake goods admit that fake goods are prevalent in Nepal. They say that everything from clothes to food have the tendency to be fake. This goes to show the risks consumers face while purchasing things in Nepal.

Fake liquor kills

In 2015, six men from Arnama rural municipality in Siraha died of alcohol poisoning. All six had slept after drinking alcohol available in the market. Before going to bed, they all had the same symptoms as they complained of nausea, headache and eye pain and all of them died around 10 hours after. According to the District Administration Office, around 30 people in the village have died due to alcohol poisoning. In 2012, eight men in the same villages had died after they showed similar symptoms following drinking. The BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, where these men were taken to for postmortem, had confirmed they died because of alcohol poisoning.  

Incidents like these are quite common as fake alcohol is prevalent in a lot of areas across the country.

Madhav Ghimire from Kathmandu died after drinking fake alcohol in 2001. This death has even been recorded at the Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights-Nepal. The forum’s president, right activist and lawyer Jyoti Baniya says a CPN-UML leader, Thakkar

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