NEW DELHI: Despite successive governments paying lip service to the motto ‘consumer is king’, consumer affairs departments in both Centre and states are the “most neglected” wings, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Saturday.
“I had told the PM that we have 1.23 crore population and all are consumers. But the department has been most neglected, be it at Centre or state level,” the minister said in an address to policy-makers on the occasion of national consumer day.
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In fact, the annual budget from central government for all activities of consumer affairs department is Rs 341 crore, which is less than Rs 3 per person. Such is the situation that, the ministry’s role often comes to limelight only when there is price rise of essential commodities. President of Punjab state consumer grievances redressal commission Justice Jasbir Singh narrated an anecdote of how a president of a district forum had admitted he was not listening to the consumer recounting his problem as he was distracted by the crumbling ceiling of the courtroom. “He was worried for his life as one portion of the ceiling had fallen a few days back,” Singh said.
Though Paswan expressed concern about vacant posts and lack of infrastructure at state and district consumer forums, he lauded these entities for disposing of 41 lakh cases in the last 30 years. He pointed out poor salary besides non-transparent system of appointing members in the district forums as other contributing factors for the present mess.