Centre to launch consumer helplines in all states

The government is planning to set up consumer care centre in all states and union territories so as to bring consumer grievance and helpline mechanism under one common IT platform, with a single toll free number, across the country.

The department of consumer affairs under the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution has already launched a scheme on National Consumer Helpline and subsequently the State Consumer Helplines (SCH). Thirty states have so far availed of the funds from Consumer Welfare Fund to establish helplines.

The department has recently invited applications from registered and eligible voluntary consumer organisations for setting up and running Consumer Care Centers (Grahak Suvidha Kendra) at Lucknow /Chandigarh (north), Bangalore/ Chennai/Hyderabad (south), Jaipur / Ahmedabad/Pune (west), Bhubaneswar / Patna /Calcutta (east), Guwahati / Shillong (north-east), Raipur / Bhopal (central) and New Delhi (National Capital).

These Consumer Care Centres (CCC) will function as a one stop facility providing a spectrum of services to consumers.

These centers will provide counseling to consumers in redressal of their grievances and assist the consumers in registering their complaints in the appropriate consumer fora.

The centers will also be authorised to take up complaints with private companies/ manufacturers/ service providers on behalf of the Government of India.

The ministry of consumer affairs has also drawn several other plans and programmes for empowerment of consumers and there welfare. Initiative has been taken on mainstreaming consumer advocacy in the policy decisions of other seven sectors of housing, health, transport, financial services, food and agriculture by constituting an inter-ministerial group.

The group had held discussions on integrating quality standards, enforcing mandatory quality standards on potable water, street food and garbage disposal so as to bring it in alliance with ''Make in India '' and Swachh Bharat '' concepts . It was also decided to expand the list of sector specific products under mandatory standards, a government release said.

 The inter-ministerial group has asked all VCOs and state governments to take a pro-active action against the false and misleading advertisements that leads to consumer exploitation. It has also been decided to involve apex industry bodies like CII and FICCI to come out with code of business ethics.

ASCI, being already doing a backend job for the I&B ministry, has also been involved in scrutinizing complaints received on the matter. Such complaints wherein action is recommended will be sent by DCA to concerned administrative Ministries.

For strengthening of consumer for a, funds are given for building and non-building purposes. Infrastructural facilities being provided under the scheme include construction of new building of the consumer fora, carrying out addition/alteration/renovation of existing buildings and grant for acquiring assets such as furniture, office equipment etc.

Under a programme called Confonet, hardware, software applications and trained manpower are being given to states. Consumers who have filed complaints in district fora/state commission/National Commission can see the case list, case status and judgment through online sitting at their home or elsewhere.

Consumer awareness camping under the banner 'JagoGrahakJago' 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, impact of which should be so geared as to reach the urban as well as rural and remote areas.

The department spreads awareness about consumer rights and responsibilities through a multi-media campaign under banner of `Jago Grahak Jago' through:

  • Television/cable
  • All India Radio
  • Print media/outdoor media, exhibitions/hoardings
  • Grants to state governments and NGOs for publicity campaigns

The Legal Metrology division of the department is implementing two schemes namely, strengthening of legal metrology infrastructure of states/UTs under the scheme of grant-in-aid to states /UTs for the construction of laboratory buildings while standard equipments are also provided for verification of weights and measures used in any transaction.

It is also strengthening five regional reference laboratories and Indian institute of Legal Metrology at Ranchi - The RRSLs situated in Faridabad, Guwahati, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, and Bhubaneswar are given assistance for infrastructure development. The IILM Ranchi was upgraded to provide better training to the legal metrology officers.

The ministry also monitors prices of 22 essential commodities by taking daily input from 63 market centers.