The Department of Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection would organise awareness programmes on the Consumer Protection Act and related laws in about 1,000 villages across the State commencing June, said its Commissioner K. Rajaraman here on Saturday.

“We have got a sanction of Rs.58 lakh from the Centre for conducting the awareness programmes. The programmes would be organised with the help of voluntary consumer organisations,” Mr. Rajaraman said at a a seminar on ‘Packaged Commodities Order,' organised by the Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu, here. The Department has set up a State Consumer Helpline and over the past three months the helpline has received over 15,000 calls, most of them seeking advice on consumer issues. Complaints received through the helpline were also being redressed.

Referring to a demand put forward by S. Pushpavanam, secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu, to bring the Department of Legal Metrology, which is responsible for enforcing the Packaged Commodities Act, under the Consumer Protection Department, Mr. Rajaraman said a proposal to this effect had already been submitted to the Government and it was under consideration.

Emphasising the need for educating people on consumer laws, Mr.Rajaraman said packaged commodities did not necessarily mean that they were quality products. Intermediaries processing food products such as hotels and bakeries should also be responsible for protecting consumer rights, he said.

He suggested that the Department of Civil Supplies, Labour and other government agencies conducted joint exercises to check expired products sold in the open markets.

Consumer organisations could initiate action against offenders under the Consumer Protection Act, which was a powerful law, he suggested.

Collector T. Soundiah emphasised the need for consumer organisations creating an awareness among the rural masses, who constitute a major market.

Though the number of consumer organisations has increased, their focus and activities are largely limited to urban areas.

He also suggested that consumer organisations enlisted more youths to take up an awareness campaign.

A. Chandrasekaran, past president, Tiruchi Auto Parts Association, said the Packaged Commodities had brought unorganised sector automobile spare parts manufacturers under one law. However, he appealed to the Government to exempt the sector from the Act, as auto parts were precision engineering products.

Mr. Pushpavanam said that the Packaged Commodities Order was not being properly implemented and many people were not even aware of it.

The seminar was intended to promote an awareness of its provisions and press the Government to implement the order. All packaged commodities, he said, should carry the names, address and other details of the manufacturers, the batch number, ingredients used, the date of manufacture and the expiry date. Earlier, Mr.R ajaraman launched the web site of the Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu. R. Natarajan, president of the Council, and others spoke.