In line with best practices in developed countries, Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has launched a scheme on National Consumer Helpline and subsequently the State Consumer Helplines (SCH). Thirty States have so far availed the funds from 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 counselors and to host a central IT system providing a common knowledge base with frequently occurring problems and solutions. The Centralised Application software hosted at IIPA Servers is has a high speed dedicated internet connection.
The National Consumer Helpline also functions from IIPA under the Center of Consumer Studies. Efforts are on to bring 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 for setting up and running Consumer Care Centers (Grahak Suvidha Kendra) in any of the following locations in India:
North: Lucknow / Chandigarh
South: Bangalore Chennai/Hyderabad
West: Jaipur / Ahmedabad/Pune
East: Bhubaneswar / Patna /Calcutta
North East: Guwahati / Shillong
Central: Raipur / Bhopal
National Capital: New Delhi
These Centers (CCC) will function as a one stop Center providing a spectrum of services to consumers. The Centers will provide counseling 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
Ministry 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 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 Make in India and Swachh Bharat concepts . It was also decided to expand the list of sector specific products under mandatory standards.
A new Initiative was taken in curbing misleading advertisements, by constituting an IMC. The IMC 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 scrutinising complaints received on the matter. Such complaints wherein action is recommended will be sent by DCA to concerned administrative Ministries.
Strengthening of consumer fora- 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.
Confonet- It a programme under which hardware, software applications and trained manpower is being given to States. Under CONFONET scheme the consumers who have filed complaints in District Fora/State Commission/National Commission can see the cause 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
All India Radio
Print media/outdoor media, exhibitions/hoardings
Grants to state governments and NGOs for publicity campaigns
Legal Metrology- Legal Metrology Division of the Department is implementing two Schemes namely;
Strengthening of Legal Metrology Infrastructure of States/UTs- under the Scheme grant-in-Aid is released to States /UTs for the construction of Laborarty buildings and standard equipments are also provided for verification of weights and measures used in any transaction.
Strengthening of 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.
Price Monitoring of Essential Commodities-The Ministry also monitors prices of 22 essential commodities by taking daily input from 63 market Centers.