Entire country to be covered under Food Security Act by April: Centre

Union Minister Ram Vilas said a move is afoot to amend the Consumer Protection Act.

Allahabad: Almost the entire country is likely to be covered under the National Food Security Act by April this year, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday said and asserted that rapid strides for its implementation have been made under the Narendra Modi government.

Paswan also said a move is afoot to amend the Consumer Protection Act so the district and state forums are strengthened further, while a number of provisions that caused inconvenience to consumers, too, are being done away with.

"The NFSA came into force in 2013. The Congress-led UPA, which was then in power, had stated that by 2014, most states in the country will be covered under the Act.

"However, when the BJP-led NDA came to power in May, 2014, only 11 states had been covered. Now, after less than two years, we have 25 states covered. We are confident that all states, except Tamil Nadu, will be covered by April this year," the Food and Civil Supplies minister told reporters.

The minister said in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state, the Act is likely to benefit "64 per cent of the urban population and 80 per cent of the rural population".

He added while at present only 28 districts in the state are covered under NFSA, the remaining 47 are likely to be brought under it by April.

Paswan, who also holds the Consumer Affairs portfolio, said the proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act would empower district consumer forums to arbitrate in disputes involving a sum of up to Rs one crore as against the existing ceiling of Rs 20 lakh.

Similarly, state forums, which can at present adjudicate in matters involving not more than Rs one crore, would be authorised to arbitrate in disputes involving a sum of up to Rs 10 crore.

Moreover, in order to reduce inconvenience to aggrieved consumers, they will be "allowed to fight their cases without hiring a lawyer, if they choose to do so", the minister said.

Further, he said, "It will no longer be necessary to file a claim in the very city where a defective item has been purchased. A person from Allahabad will be allowed to file his claim in the city here even if he happens to make a purchase in Delhi.

"We are also going to introduce facilities like filing of claims through mobile phones and internet so that there is no need to be physically present at every stage," Paswan said.

The minister said the government is going to crack down on "misleading advertisements, splashed across newspapers day in and day out, wherein unbelievable cures for baldness, obesity and similar afflictions are claimed".

( Source : PTI )
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