Pawar asks states to strengthen consumer fora

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New Delhi, Mar 14 (UNI) Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food&Public Distribution Sharad Pawar today lauded the consumer fora for protecting consumers rights and called upon states to create necessary infrastructure for proper functioning of the fora.

''We are the only country in the world which has an exclusive fora for the consumer complaints redressal in this form. As per reports received, despite constraints, the overall performance of consumer fora is commendable with disposal of 88 per cent of cases, which is over 29 lakh,'' he said.

Highlighting the need to strengthen the consumer fora, the Minister said that unless the consumer fora functions effectively, the fledgling consumer movement would hit a roadblock. In this regard he called upon states to create necessary infrastructure for effective functioning of the fora.

He said, ''in order to supplement the efforts of the states/UTs in strengthening and meeting critical gaps in infrastructure of the consumer fora, we have another scheme titled 'Integrated Project on Consumer Protection' where additional financial assistance is being extended to them. I am confident that after this inadequate infrastructure should not be a cause which could come in the way of disposal.'' ''I am, however, told that many state governments have not yet come forward to take advantage of the scheme. Many of them have been slow in providing even land or proper premises for the fora. There are many vacancies in a number of states. This is surprising as the Government of India scheme provides liberal assistance to states for creating infrastructure which is the responsibility of the state. I hope, states will address these issues on priority, the minister added.

Mr Pawar called for a movement against unethical marketing of unhealthy food, and said the ingredients of the food products should be clearly known to the consumers along with the information regarding quality, quantity and purity.

He also wanted the producers of such eatables to publish the likely health hazards.

He was speaking at a conference held as part of Silver Jubilee Celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day. This year's theme is ''Junk Food Generation'' to draw the attention of the society towards the menace of junk food.

All the speakers highlighted the growing influence of junk food on the society especially by younger generation.

The conference was inaugurated by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

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