CONSUMER FORUMS

11th October 2013

I was invited to the Roundtable conference on Consumer Protection in Karnataka conducted on 9th October 2013 at The Cheveron Hotel, Bengaluru.

The Programme was conducted by CREAT, The consumer rights education and awareness trust established in 1993 at Bangalore as a non-profit advocacy group focusing on consumer education, information and empowerment, in joint co-operation with the German Consumer Protection wing ,”giz” which operates in 130 countries around the world.

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The welcome address and the theme of the roundtable process was briefly explained by Mr.Y.G.Muralidharan, Director,CREAT.

  • The Chairperson for Inauguration and setting the Agenda Shri S.Ramanathan,IAS(Retd) and Chairman, Indian Institute of Public Administration,Karnataka Regional Branch  spoke on various issues on funds/grants unused for consumer forum activities due to shortage of manpower,lack of trust from both the sides and inactivity of consumer forums.Recently there has been proposal mooted to GOK for Centre of Consumer studies & funded by GOK wholly. He was hopeful that activation may happen in a months of time for the consumer movement to take forward.
  • The Inaugural address was given by Smt.Latha Krishna Rao,IAS,Principal Secretary,Department of Food,Civil supplies and Consumer Affairs, GOK. She addressed the gathering about the lack of consumer awareness and lack of sensitization of traders and manufacturers. She asked the Consumer forums to be involved more at various legal frameworks and felt that there is a need to establish a system for the consumers to approach consumer court hassle free.
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  • The Key note Address was addressed by Ms.Ruth Anna Buettner,Program Director,GIZ about the Indian economy’s rapid growth leading to more consumer protection.GIZ focuses on the areas energy ,renewable energy, environment, natural resources management and consumer protection policy. She said the voluntary consumer organizations should focus on the law enforcement, product safety, supporting the consumer movement of market, strategic development of consumer protection and consumer advisory body.
  • The roundtable was followed by the various presentations by the representatives of consumer groups from Districts, NGO’s, Legal Metrology Department and Health activists shared their views on the means and methods of strengthening consumer movement in Karnataka. This was chaired by Shri P.B.Mahishi,IAS(Retd),Former Chief Secretary to GoK.
  • I was requested by the Director, CREAT to give presentation on funding aspects from various International banking organizations, donor institutions, agencies etc., and How the civil society organizations can use the facility to work on these type of projects.

The participants were asked to make a group and workshop was conducted to understand the structure and interest of the consumer grievances in order to plan for the consumer movement in the final segment of the round table.

19th September 2013

Vacancies render 11 consumer forums useless

Thousands of consumers in 11 districts of Karnataka, including Bangalore Urban and Mysore, have been left high and dry because their consumer forums don’t have presidents andmembers.

H N Venkatesh, a city-based advocate, says the Mysore forum has had no president for eight months. This has inconvenienced hundreds of consumers as the cases have been adjourned due to lack of quorum.

The single member of the forum cannot take decisions. The Mandya district forum president holds additional charge of Mysore, but this is of no use. Says Venkatesh: “Even a year after I filed a case on behalf of my client, it is still pending. There is no progress because the president’s post is vacant.”

The president’s post is vacant in the Mysore, Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Hassan, Kodagu, Chikmagalur, Shimoga, Bijapur, Uttara Kannada, Gadag and Raichur district forums, according to Venkatesh. Also, 23 member posts are vacant in various forums.

In each district, the lawyer estimates, 500-800 cases are pending due to the vacancies.

An official of Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission says interviews for all vacant posts were held long ago, but appointments were not made due to a high court stay. “Now the stay has been vacated and we are awaiting a government order to complete the formalities,” he added.

The official, however, didn’t mention the number of vacancies.
When contacted, food, civil supplies and consumer affairs principal secretary Latha Krishna Rau said the file is with her, but her immediate priority is to ensure the implementation of the Anna Bhagya scheme.

Source: TOI

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Note: This page entirely focuses on Consumer forum activities in addressing the consumer grievances.

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