Mumbai, July 3: Maharashtra will soon come up with a list of all activists and experts to spread awareness and help consumers in distress. Maharashtra steps one step ahead to protect consumer interests in a more organised manner.
The state government wants to endorse consumer rights activists and experts in two categories — voluntary consumer activists who fight for consumer rights more as a social cause at no charge and professional consumer advisors who take up consumers’ issues or give counsel for a fee.
The onset of the Goods and Services Tax may lead to more confusion among consumers and so there is a need for qualified assistance. The government machinery to protect consumer rights comprises a consumer helpline, a state commission for consumers and consumer grievance redressal forums, all of which are flooded with complaints. Moreover, increasing consumerism and a spurt in e-commerce companies and online shopping have deepened the need to have a stronger support system for consumers and assistance from non-government institutions in an organised manner will be helpful, the official said.
The state Food and Civil Supplies Department issued a government resolution forming a committee to identify voluntary consumer activists and professional consumer advisors and draft rules for their authorization. The committee, which will be chaired by the Principal Secretary of the Department, also comprises Representatives of Consumer Organisations such as the Consumer Guidance Society of India, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, and Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat.
An official from the food and civil supplies department said, “The Centre had written to the state government in December last year asking us to sort consumer rights activists into voluntary activists and professional advisors, get them accredited and give them the basic training and tools required to work for consumer awareness. Accordingly, we constituted a committee of government officials and activists from known consumer rights outfits to formulate the rules and take this forward.”