Consumer panel to get more teeth: Pawar

July 30th, 2008 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) The government panel to protect consumer interests will be provided with more teeth, said Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Sharad Pawar here Wednesday. Pawar, while addressing the representatives of Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC), said consumers’ interests had to be protected effectively.

He said the government was in the process of bringing about amendments to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986, which would ensure that consumers were fully protected against any injustice.

“The proposed amendments will make the CPA even more dynamic, responsive, and consumer friendly,” Pawar said in his inaugural address at the 24th meeting of the CCPC.

Although he did not elaborate on the amendments, a senior official told IANS that the ministry was concerned about delay in disposal of consumer related cases.

“Efforts are on to the consumer disputes disposal forums more effective by further empowering them,” said the official from the ministry of food, and consumer affairs, who did not wish to be identified.

As per an official estimate, 354,750 cases were pending for redressal as on June 30, 2008 in the national, state commissions and district forums.

Pawar, who heads the CCPC, assured the gathering that the government would provide funds for upgrading infrastructure facilities of the consumer forums.

“A dedicated computerisation and computer networking of consumer forums called ‘Confonet’ is being executed on a turnkey basis by the National Informatics Centre (NIC),” Pawar said.

Confonet, which was started in 2004-05, aims at networking all consumer forums, and has currently networked the National Commission, 34 state commissions and 593 district forums.

The minister added that over Rs.730 million had been released to 21 states to supplement their efforts in strengthening infrastructure of the consumer forums.

Referring to the project titled “Strengthening Consumer Protection in India”, a bilateral initiative of the Indian and German governments, Pawar said the move would go a long way in protecting the interests of consumers.

The project, currently under implementation in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi on pilot basis, is intended to “provide and attune the best practices to meet the requirements on consumer information, advice and complaint redressal”.

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