New Delhi: The Centre has decided to fund states to set up consumer helplines, modelled after the national initiative, which has shown encouraging results in redressing complaints against manufacturers or service providers.
In the first stage, five states would roll out the consumer helpline in local languages with the help of the Centre, a Consumer Affairs Ministry official told PTI.
He said the money has already been given to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Mizoram in March and “we hope that the helpline will be functional soon”.
As per the scheme, consumer helplines would be set up in all the states during the 11th Five-Year Plan with 100% Central assistance, the official said, adding that the helplines would offer consumers an opportunity to lodge their complaints before moving the consumer forum.
Currently, the national consumer helpline, which is a toll-free service if called from MTNL and BSNL lines, receives 175-200 calls daily, the official said.
“Out of 175-200 calls received everyday, at least 15% grievances are resolved when the matter is taken up with the other parties against whom complaints have been received,” the official said.
The helpline also offers guidance to the consumers when the matter is not resolved, the official added.
Meanwhile, the government is also working on a plan to set up a Consumer Protection Regulatory Authority (CPRA).
“It is too early to say what shape the Authority will take,” the official said when asked whether it would be on the lines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
He said in all probability the CPRA would not have penal power, but would be the agency to deal with matters which are related to a large number of consumers.
After the Competition Commission came into existence, there is a void in dealing with matters related to consumer interests, which was earlier taken care of by MRTPC, he added.