BANGALORE: The Department of Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer affairs (KFCSCA) does not have funds for consumer awareness activities in Karnataka.
As per the Consumer Protection Act 1986, it is the responsibility of the State Consumer Welfare Committee working under the KFCSCA to conduct consumer awareness exhibitions, seminars, symposiums, conferences and workshops, and build infrastructure facilities for organising consumer education and awareness activities at the districts or taluks levels.
However, B A Harish Gowda, Secretary, Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, said that the department has not been allocated any funds for consumer awareness programmes. “Leave alone people living in cities, there are lot of complaints which gets registered on crop insurance at the rural level. Television advertisements will not suffice but no specific fund is allocated for consumer awareness programmes. It has to come from the Central Government,” he added.
Although, an official of the Department of Legal Metrology stated that they had conducted over 900 consumer awareness programmes, but it was all funded from different accounts.
Speaking on the flaws in the system, Harish Gowda said, “Consumer awareness programmes alone will not work. People should question on every product they purchase and be vigilant. In cities and in big retail outlets, there is a brand consciousness amongst the sellers, so they will think twice before they could cheat unlike in rural areas and this needs to be addressed.”
Referring to a personal case of being cheated by a seller even after the ‘weighing machine’ was verified by the Legal Metrology Department, the Commissioner, Department of Food and Civil Supplies, K H Govindaraj, said, “The Department should strengthen their verification process . It should also take adequate measures against the repetition of the offense.”
According to statistics available from the Legal Metrology Department, the State Consumer Redressal Forum receives about 3,500 cases every month.
In a random survey done by City Express in the city, many people did not know how to verify a genuine auto meter, while the department officials claim to verify it annually. Not surprisingly, around 70 per cent of meters used in autos in the city go unchecked by the Department. They say that shortage of staff affects verification.