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Consumer affairs ministry launches national & state consumer helplines
Saturday, 27 December, 2014, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
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In line with best practices in developed countries, the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has launched the National Consumer Helpline schemes, and subsequently, the State Consumer Helplines (SCH). So far, 30 states have availed the funds from the Consumer Welfare Fund to establish helplines, according to the scheme.

A National Resource Centre Knowledge resource management portal for state helplines, under the Centre for Consumer Studies, is functioning at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) to act as a nodal agency to integrate state helplines; coordinate its activities; conduct training for their counsellors and to host a central information technology (IT) system providing a common knowledge base with frequently occurring problems and solutions.

The centralised application software, hosted at the IIPA servers, has a high-speed dedicated Internet connection.

The National Consumer Helpline also functions from IIPA under the Centre for Consumer Studies. Efforts are on to bring the consumer grievance and helpline mechanism under one common IT platform, with a single toll free-number across the country.

The department has recently invited applications from registered and eligible voluntary consumer organisations to set up and run Grahak Suvidha Kendras (consumer care centres [CCC]) at the following locations in India:

North

Lucknow/Chandigarh

South

Bangalore/Chennai/Hyderabad

West

Jaipur/Ahmedabad/Pune

East

Bhubaneswar/Patna/Kolkata

North-East

Guwahati/Shillong

Central

Raipur/Bhopal

National Capital

New Delhi


  • These CCC would function as a one-stop centre providing a spectrum of services to consumers;
  • They would provide counselling to consumers for the redressal of their grievances, and assist them in registering their complaints in the appropriate consumer fora, and
  • The centres would also be authorised to take up complaints with private companies, manufacturers and service providers on behalf of the Government of India
The ministry has also drawn several other plans and programmes for the empowerment of consumers and their welfare. The initiative has been taken to mainstream consumer advocacy in the policy decisions of other sectors (including housing; health; transport; financial services and food and agriculture) by constituting an inter-ministerial group.

The group had discussions held on integrating quality standards; enforcing mandatory quality standards on potable water, street food and garbage disposal so as to bring it in alliance with the Make in India and Swachh Bharat concepts. It was also decided that the list of sector-specific products would be expanded under mandatory standards.

A new initiative was taken in curbing misleading advertisements, by constituting an inter-ministerial committee (IMC). The IMC has asked all voluntary consensus organisations (VCO) and state governments to take a pro-active action against the false and misleading advertisements that lead to consumer exploitation.

It has also been decided to involve apex industry bodies like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to come out with the code of business ethics.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which is already doing a back-end job for the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has also been involved in scrutinising complaints received on the matter.

Such complaints, wherein action is recommended, would be sent by DCA to concerned administrative ministries.

Strengthening of consumer fora: Funds are given for building and non-building purposes. The infrastructure facilities provided under the scheme include the construction of new buildings for consumer fora; carrying out additions to, alterations to or renovation of existing buildings, and grants for acquiring assets such as furniture, office equipment, etc.

Confonet: It is a programme under which hardware and software applications and trained manpower are being provided to the states. Under the Confonet scheme, the consumers who have filed complaints in the district fora, state commissions or National Commission can see the case list, case status and judgment online.

Consumer awareness campaign:
Under the banner Jago Grahak Jago, a multi-media campaign is being run throughout the country to make the consumers aware of their rights and to protect them against unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.

The objective of the scheme is to continue an effective, sustained and intensive and intensive consumer awareness campaign, the impact of which should be so geared as to reach both the urban and the rural and remote areas.

Under the Jago Grahak Jago banner, the department spreads awareness about consumer rights and responsibilities through a multi-media campaign on:
  • Television/cable
  • All India Radio (AIR);
  • Print media, outdoor media, exhibitions and hoardings;
  • Grants to state governments and non-governmental organisations (NGO) for publicity campaigns
Legal Metrology
The legal metrology division of the department is implementing two schemes, namely:  

Strengthening of legal metrology infrastructure of states and Union Territories (UT): Under the scheme, grant-in-aid is released to states and UT for the construction of laboratory buildings, and standard equipment are also provided for the verification of weights and measures used in any transactions.

Strengthening of five regional reference laboratories (RRL) and the Indian Institute of Legal Metrology (IILM) at Ranchi: The RRL situated in Faridabad, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Bhubaneswar are given assistance for infrastructure development. IILM Ranchi was upgraded to provide better training to the legal metrology officers.

Price monitoring of essential commodities: The ministry monitors the prices of 22 essential commodities by taking daily inputs from 63 market centres.
 
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