The government has thrown open the e-Jagriti portal and video conferencing (VC) facility for the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and state consumer commissions as part of the focus on leveraging technology for consumer protection and grievance redressal.
Launching the facilities as part of the National Consumer Day celebrations, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said, the e-Jagriti portal, VC facility for NCDRC, drone testing in NTH, National Consumer Helpline 2.0 in 17 languages, exemplify the Indian government’s efforts to build consumer trust.
The Minister urged the Department of Consumer Affairs to focus on making Jagriti a “jan andolan” by spreading awareness, providing choices, efficient grievance redressal to consumers and getting continuous feedback from them.
He appreciated the fact that number of calls received at national consumer helpline had shot up from from 10,000 in 2013 to 1,32,209 till November this year
The minister urged the Department of Consumer Affairs to collaboratively strategise with consumer commissions in leveraging technology to eliminate old pending cases entirely and address new cases more swiftly and in real-time.
However, the minister also cautioned that along with this technological expansion comes an increase in associated risks. “The ongoing conversation regarding subjects such as AI and consumer protection, including the mitigation of dark patterns, highlights the imperative for a comprehensive stakeholder discussion,” he said.
Goyal commended the recent release of the “Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023” by the Department of Consumer Affairs. These guidelines, outlining 13 specific dark patterns, aim to prevent and regulate manipulative practices, fostering a fair and transparent marketplace for consumers.
Goyal also inaugurated the Drone certification facility and new laboratories at National Test House and Domestic Appliances testing Laboratory, Mumbai. The Transformer Testing facility at Guwahati and Organic Food Testing Laboratory at Jaipur were also inaugurated by the minister.
Speaking on the issues related to prices of essential goods, Goyal emphasised that by implementing proactive measures and monetary and fiscal policies in collaboration with the Department of Consumer Affairs, successfully managed to keep food inflation in check.
The Minister appreciated the department’s proactive initiatives which includes establishment of 140 new Price Monitoring centres making it a total of 550 price monitoring centres that monitors and analyses indicative price and thereby shield consumers from food inflation.
He noted the department’s intervention in making tomato and onion along with Bharat Dal and Bharat Atta at subsidised prices to all consumers, saying that it demonstrates the present government’s commitment to protecting consumers from inflation.
NCDRC president Amreshwar Pratap Sahi in his keynote address emphasised the need for widespread consumer protection across the nation. He suggested that the e-filing of cases should be accessible to every corner of the country, ensuring that even technologically challenged consumers can utilize it to file cases through e-daakhil.
(With inputs from IANS)