Departments of Civil Supplies and Panchayat Raj pass buck on who fund DCIC

The District Consumer Information Centre (DCIC) is on the verge of closure after annual maintenance funds have been stopped.

The DCIC being run since 2002 under a scheme of the Union Government and is managed by the Udupi Consumers’ Forum as per the scheme. The Zilla Panchayat is the supervising and monitoring agency for the DCIC.

The basic aim of the DCIC is to disseminate information on all aspects of consumer protection. It also has to liaise with the District Weights and Measures authority/ laboratories in handling issues related to quality, weights and adulteration, and the District Civil Supplies authority.

When the DCIC started functioning, it got a one-time grant of Rs. 5 lakh from the Union Consumer Affairs Department, which included Rs. 2.5 lakh for 2002, Rs. 1.75 lakh 2003, and Rs. 75,000 for 2004.

After the grant from the Union government ceased, the Zilla Panchayat was expected to provide financial assistance to the DCIC. Accordingly, the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) wrote to the Department of Food and Civil Supplies under the State government, which provided a total of Rs. 5 lakh for another three years – 2005, 2006 and 2007.

According to K. Damodar Aithal, Convener of Udupi Consumers’ Forum, when the ZP requested funds for the functioning of the DCIC in 2008, the department refused to provide it, stating that the ZP came under the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR).

“When the ZP approached the RDPR Department, the latter raised a technical objection stating that when the ZP agreed for the DCIC, it had not sought the permission of the Principal Secretary of RDPR,” Mr. Aithal said.

With the two departments passing the buck to one another, the Udupi Consumer Forum is managing the DCIC through donations.

The DCIC requires a minimum of Rs. 1.75 lakh annually for its activities and pay salaries of its staff. It has two staff members – a full-timer and a part-timer.

Upendra Nayak, president of Zilla Panchayat, said that the ZP was ready to provide funds by including the amount in its Action Plan. “But this move requires the government’s nod. We have written several letters but there is no positive response from it,” he said.

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