THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In an irony of sorts, various district forums under the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission took up their ‘grievances’ lying unattended for years at the Commission’s meeting held here on Friday. They ranged from defunct photocopier machines to acute shortage of staff.
Addressing the forum members, Consumer Protection Minister Anoop Jacob promised that the govt would address their various problems, be it regarding remuneration, staff shortage or facilities.
The meeting was attended by Consumer Affairs Dept Secretary Suman Billa, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission president Justice P Q Berkath Ali and Civil Supplies Department Director A T James.
The problems faced by forum members in some districts were grave in nature. While in Wayanad the forum office had to function without lavatories and with acute shortage of water, in Malappuram, the new office lacked even a proper entrance.
The member of the Ernakulam district forum pointed out the difficulties caused by the flooding of their office compound at Kathrikadavu by overflowing drainage water whenever it rained. Almost all district forums demanded new photocopier and fax machines pointing out the huge cost incurred on repairing the machines each time.
While in some forums, the office spaces were covered with obsolete machines and outdated documents, the offices of some other forums had their toilets converted into store rooms to stack old files. The post of forum president has been lying vacant in Kannur. The Thrissur forum, which has over 4000 consumer dispute cases pending before it, had sought permission for an extra forum in the district. With this denied, the forum’s president wondered if some new staff would be appointed.
In Idukki and Wayanad, where the offices were located in far-flung places, the forum members faced another problem. The number of cases there are lesser as the consumers are hesitant to visit these offices.
To reach out to the public, the forum members in these areas suggested that camp sittings could be conducted in nearby towns.
Suman Billa said that the fund for infrastructure, which was once under the purview of the State Government, is now provided by the Central Government.
‘’The demands for photocopiers and fax machines would be addressed expeditiously. But appointment of new staff will take time. At present, the department can consider transfer of staff from forums with relatively lesser number of cases to the busier forums,’’ the Secretary said.