“we shape our cities, thereafter cities shape us”
the cities grow with their people. they are made of aspirations,dreams and opportunities.
what is urbanization?
Urbanization refers to the population shift from rural areas to urban areas, the gradual increase in the proportion of people living in urban areas, and the ways in which each society adapts to this change.
How a urban area is defined in India?
For the Census of India 2011, the definition of urban area is a place
- having a minimum population of 5,000
- of density 400 persons per square kilometre (1,000/sq mi) or higher,
- and 75% plus of the male working population employed in non-agricultural activities.
- Places administered by a municipal corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee are automatically considered urban areas.
Factors causing urbanization:-
Various reasons have led to the growth of cities. They are as follows:
ii. Social factors:Many social factors such as attraction of cities, better standard of living, better educational facilities, need for status also induce people to migrate to cities.
iii. Employment opportunities:
iv. Modernization:Urban areas are characterized by sophisticated technology better infrastructure, communication, medical facilities, etc. People feel that they can lead a comfortable life in cities and migrate to cities.
Effect of Urbanisation:
With a high rate of urbanization significant changes have taken place. The effect of urbanisation can be summed up as follows:
i. Migration of rural people to urban areas.
ii. Employment opportunities in urban centres.
iii. Transport and communication facilities.
iv. Educational facilities.
v. Increase in the standard of living.
Urbanization can yield positive effects if it takes place up to a desirable limit. Extensive urbanisation or indiscriminate growth of cities may result in adverse effects. They may be as follows:
i. Problem of over population:
ii. Disintegration of Joint family:
iii. Cost of living:
iv. Increase in Crime rates:
v. Impersonal relations:Urban centres are characterised by highly secondary relations. The concept of neighbourhood, community life are almost absent in cities. Urban life is highly monotonous. This may have an adverse psychological effect on individuals. People are often self centred and they have no concern for the fellow human beings.
vi. Problem of Pollution:
Urban life is characterised by stress which may even strain family relations. In cities employment of women is almost inevitable to meet the increasing cost of living. Changing role of women in the family creates stress in the family which may result in divorce or strained relations.
“Urbanization can be prevented from turning ugly not by keeping people away from the cities but by taking cities to where people already live.”
Building urban infrastructure through AMRUT
AMRUT one of the flagship missions of GOI was launched on 25 june,2015 in 500 cities across the country with the aim of Providing basic services (e.g. water supply, sewerage, urban transport) to households and build amenities in cities which will improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged is a national priority.
The components of the AMRUT consist of
- Water supply systems including augmentation of existing water supply, water treatment plants and universal metering.
- Rehabilitation of old water supply systems, including treatment plants.
- Rejuvenation of water bodies specifically for drinking water supply and recharging of ground water.
- Special water supply arrangement for difficult areas, hill and coastal cities, including those having water quality problems (e.g. arsenic, fluoride).
- Decentralised, networked underground sewerage systems, including augmentation of existing sewerage systems and sewage treatment plants.
- Rehabilitation of old sewerage system and treatment plants.
- Recycling of water for beneficial purposes and reuse of wastewater.
- Construction and improvement of drains and storm water drains in order to reduce and eliminate flooding.
- Footpaths/ walkways, sidewalks, foot over-bridges and facilities for non-motorised transport (e.g. bicycles).
- Multi-level parking.
- Development of green space and parks with special provision for children, senior citizens and Divyang friendly components.
Besides creating basic infrastructure, the mission has a reform agenda spread over a set of 11 items comprising 54 milestones to be achieved by the states/UTs over a period of 4 years. These reforms broadly cover
- Offering online services to citizens
- Establishing single window for all approvals
- Establishing municipal cadre
- Achieving at least 90% of billing and collection of taxes /user charges
- Developing at least one park for children every year
- Credit rating of urban local bodies
- Issuance of municipal bonds
- Implementing model building bye-laws
- Audit of energy and water.
How AMRUT is aligned with needs of Urbanising India?
- Cooperative federalism: keeping in line with cooperative federalism, state govt have been empowered to appraise, approve and sanction projects for their AMRUT cities-a departure from JNNURM where individual projects were sanctioned by then ministry of urban development.
- Framework for institutional reform: AMRUT lays major emphasis on institutional reforms which aim to improve governance and institutional capacities of ULBs. Reforms are targeted for better service delivery and enhanced transparency and accountability.
- Principles of increamentalism and prioritisation: In the persuit of ensuring universal coverage of water supply and improving sanitation coverage for the citizens, a principle of increamentalism has been introduced under the mission which is the gradual process of achieving benchmarks. Recognising the urgent water and sanitation needs, states had to prioritise water supply and severage projects-water supply being the first priority.
- Incentivising over penalising: During the erstwhile JNNURM 10% of the additional centre assistance for projects was retained for non completion of reforms. This led to all state loosing this 10% as none could achieve 100% of reforms(penalising). While reform implementation is incentivised under AMRUT-10% of the budgetary allocation is year marked for reform incentive and it is over and above the allocation for projects.
- Monitoring of the mission: Programme monitoring is being done at various level to understand progress and gaps.
- Central level– apex committee chaired by the secretary ,MoHUA.
- State level-state high powered steering committee chaired by chief secretary
- District level– District level Regional review and monitoring committee.
Reforms so far
- Online building permission system: an online building permission system with common application form and seamless integration of all clearances /NOCs from internal/external agencies has been made operational in 440AMRUT cities.
- Replacement of street lights with LED lights
- Credit rating: 469 AMRUT cities have been credit rated out of the total 485 cities where credit rating work had commissioned.
- Municipal Bonds: raising of bonds leads to improved governance, accounting systems, finance, transparency, accountability and delivery of services.
Jal shakti Abhiyan-Urban
In order to address water scarcity, it is important to undertake efforts for conservation, restoration, recharge and reuse of water. In this pursuit, Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS), Government of India has launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) from 1st July, 2019.
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is participating actively in the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) along with States/UTs/ Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to make water conservation measures a Jan Andolan.
- Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) : ULBs have taken measures for establishing Rainwater harvesting cell, construction and installation of RWH structures to recharge ground water sources and to store water.
- Reuse of Treated Waste Water : ULBs have undertaken construction of dual piping structure in public buildings and reuse of secondary treated water for horticulture, car washing, fire hydrants etc.
- Rejuvenation of Water Bodies
AMRUT has made remarkable strides in improving water and sanitation coverage in urban areas. However, more than 3500 smaller cities/towns at present are not covered under any central scheme for water supply and faecal sludge and septage management infrastructure. Keeping in view SDG Goal 6 for ensuring sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, it is imperative to take forward the achievements of this mission to smaller cities as well.
Slums: facts and misconceptions
A Slum, for the purpose of Census, has been defined as residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangements and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of street, lack of ventilation, light, or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health.
Sociologically, it is a way of life, a sub culture with a set of norms and values, which is reflected in poor sanitation and health practices, deviant behavior and attributes of apathy and social isolations.
Categorization of slums
Slums have been categorized and defined as of the following three types:
- Notified Slums: All notified areas in a town or city notified as ‘Slum’ by State, UT Administration or Local Government under any Act including a ‘Slum Act’
- Recognized Slums: All areas recognized as ‘Slum’ by State, UT Administration or Local Government, Housing and Slum Boards, which may have not been formally notified as slum under any act
- Identified Slums : A compact area of at least 300 population or about 60-70 households of poorly built congested tenements, in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities
Characteristics of slum
Some of the features of slums are:
- Housing conditions: Slums have commonly been defined as those portions of cities in which housing is crowded, neglected deteriorated and often obsolete. Many of the inadequate housing conditions can be attributed to poorly arranged structures, inadequate lighting and circulation, lack of sanitary facility, overcrowding and inadequate maintenance.
- 2. Overcrowding and congestion: A slum may be an area which is overcrowded with buildings or a building overcrowded with people or both.
- Neighbourhood facilities: A poor slum is invariably associated with poor facilities and community services. Along with shabbiness and dilapidation, schools are of poor quality and other public facilities are often insufficient.
- Poor Sanitation and Health: Slums are generally been dirty and unclean places which is defined largely in terms of the physical deterioration, stressing particularly unsanitary conditions and lack of sufficient facilities like water and latrines.
- Deviant Behaviour: A high incidence of deviant behavior- crime, juvenile delinquency, prostitution, drunkenness, drug usage, mental disorder, suicide, ill legitimacy and family maladjustments have long been associated with slum living. It is a fact that vice may be found in slums but is by no means confined only to the slums.
- The Culture of the Slum– a way of life Slums differ widely with respect to the social organization of their Inhabitants. The slum has a culture of its own and this culture is the way of life. This way of life is passed from generation to generation with its own rationale, structure ad defense mechanism, which provides the means to continue in spite of difficulties and deprivation.
- Apathy and Social Isolation: Every residential area within the modern city tends to be socially isolated from others, partly by choice and partly by location. The slum is especially so, as it is inhabited by the people of the lowest status.
Functions of the Slums
The slums have met various needs and have served several useful functions for the slum residents.
- The most common functions of the slums have been to provide housing for the lowest income groups and migrants in the city.
- The slums also serve as places where group living and association on the basis of villages, regions, tribes or ethnic or racial groups may develop.
- an organized way of life in slums, which offered satisfaction to its residents.
- The slums also perform a function as a type of “School” to educate newcomers to the city. It gives them a place to become oriented upon arrival, to find first jobs and to learn the ways of city life.
- Another important function of the slum is that of offering a place of residence to those who prefer to live an anonymous life. This includes migratory workers, criminals, chronic alcoholic and workers in illegal enterprises.
Facts about slums
Fact1- Official list under identify slums and under count slum populations-
- The official record of slums is incomplete.
- The definition of slums and enumeration methodologies differ among official agencies but commonly they underestimate slum population. For example NSSO counted 44 million slum dwellers in 2008 while census of India counted 65 million slum dwellers in 2011.
- With the help of satellite images it is found that many localities where conditions are more worse than slums are not counted in slums. One type of missed settlement is blue polygon so termed because clusters of such homes –four poles surrounded by blue plastic sheet –appear as blue rectangle in satellite images.
Fact 2- slums in each city have a variety of living conditions that fall along a continuum. People’s needs vary at different points of the continuum. Standardised slum policies are, therefore, not helpful-Residents of slums at different points have diverse needs and requires different kind of public support. In sum slums pressing public need is drinking water, housing and toilets while in some waste management and employment is pressing need. So implementing a common slum policy does not represent a good use of resources.
Fact 3- Traditional survey methods are inadequate to keep up with rapid changes. Satellite image analysis helps generate slum maps and sort slums into types.
Misconceptions about slums
Misconception1: official notification is required for getting basic services and saleable property titles but in practice, notification can be an ambiguous status.
Misconception 2: lacking property titles, slum residents cannot sell or mortgage properties but in practice, slum properties with all types of papers are freely transacted.
Misconception 3: Slums are temporary halting points that work as conveyor belts leading rural migrants into the urban middle class but in practice, lack of movement more accurately defines slum conditions. the majority have lived in the same home for generations. Very few neighborhoods develop from slum to non-slum area.
Urbanisation and Informal sector
Formal and informal sector
Formal sectors represent all jobs with specific working hours and regular wages and the worker’s job is assured. The workers are employed by the government, state or private sector enterprises. It is a licensed organization and is liable to pay taxes. It includes large-scale operations such as banks and other corporations.
Conversely, informal or unorganized sectors are the ones where the employees or the workers do not have regular working hours and wages and are exempted from taxes. It is mainly concerned with the primary production of goods and services with the primary aim of generating employment and income on a small scale. A street vendor selling his farm products on the street to generate and earn his daily bread is an example of informal economy. Ragpickers, moneylenders, brokers are considered as a part of an informal economy. It is also described as the grey economy.
Factors influencing Migration
Rural to urban migration, which is a response to diverse economic opportunities across geographical areas has played a significant role in the urbanization process of several countries .Two important hypotheses have been put forth to explain rapid city growth in developing countries
(1) Rapid population growth deteriorating the land man ratio and pushing landless Labour into the urban space, and
(2) Migrants being pulled by economic factors such as fall in agriculture prices, import of technology from the developed countries favouring urban industries in the developing countries, foreign capital flows into urban infrastructure, housing, power, transportation and large-scale manufacturing.
Urbanization of Poverty
In the face of a high natural growth of population, rural–urban migration is believed to aggravate the situation of excess supply of Labour in the urban areas. Within the urban informal sector, this tends to reduce the level of earnings and gets manifested in a high incidence of urban poverty. Thus, rural poverty gets transformed into urban poverty – a phenomenon described as ‘urbanization of poverty’.
Costs of migration
Costs of migration include
- the transportation and resettlement costs at the place of destination
- Several social costs such as social exclusion, deprivation from familial bonding and the benefits associated with such bonding, and a variety of harassments that the low-income migrants face from the Labour contractors, slum lords and city residents.
Migration, Urban Informal Sector Employment, Poverty and Other Important Correlates
- Higher urbanization and work participation rate in both rural and urban areas are positively associated with migration , suggesting that those in the Labour market are more likely to migrate and after migration they are likely to continue in the Labour market. Such patterns are more prevalent in states which are more urbanized than the others.
- Migration, urban informal sector employment, the incidence of scheduled caste (SC) population (representing lower social categories in terms of caste) in the urban and rural areas are all positively connected with each other, suggesting that the socially backward groups are more likely to migrate and land up in the urban informal sector. However, this pattern is accompanied by a decline in the incidence of poverty in both rural and urban areas, though in nominal terms only.
- rural to urban migration impacts urban informal sector employment which, in turn, influences the rural to urban migration rate. Further, informal sector employment and rural to urban migration both exert effects on urban poverty.
- It is the formal sector which motivates rural to urban migration, studies have shown the importance of the urban informal sector in providing sources of livelihood to rural migrants. Even when they do not have the expectation of getting absorbed in the formal sector, migration still takes place precisely because urban informal sector earnings are higher than what the rural economy is able to offer.
- there is a strong association between rural and urban poverty: the role of migration cannot be ruled out, though migration may be contributing to a reduction in poverty in both rural and urban areas as seen from the factor analysis. In addition, urban literacy contributes to reduction in poverty significantly. Though the incidence of informal sector employment has tendency to raise poverty, the coefficient is not statistically significant.
On the whole, based on the significant results, we can conclude that migration and urban informal sector employment are closely connected.
Migrants do not necessarily move in search of jobs within the formal sector only; even the possibility to work in the informal sector induces population mobility across space. Further, rural and urban poverty are connected through migration and other state specific characteristics, though migration and an increased urbanisation level tend to reduce both rural and urban poverty.
Mobility responsive urban planning
This article analyses public policies which assumes city dwellers as sedentary are not in sync with the presence and needs of changing mobility which is increasingly circular, semi or non-permanent.
Most migrants then are compelled to find solutions outside the formal system; such patterns generate a vicious cycle in which both cities and migrants get trapped.
Changing Scale and Forms of mobility in India
- The conventional mode of migration is based on census definition which says that when a person is enumerated in census at a different place than his / her place of birth, she / he is considered a migrant. But this is only a part of picture as these official data sources tend to neglect short-term and circular migration.
- Forms of mobility are varying and do not correspond to permanent move. Two forms which are particulary significant are a) commuting– travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis. And b) circular migration– is the temporary and usually repetitive movement of a migrant workerbetween home and host areas, typically for the purpose of employment.
How mobility transform places?
- Conventional data measuring more permanent movement would estimate implications on places in terms of burdens on infrastructure and housing but in practice it is also important to take cognizance of terms on which they are created.
- Work and economic reasons may be the prime reasons but health and education are also supplementary reasons for migration. Such services creates demands which are locality intensive.
What does neglect of these needs leads?
Solution lies in Short term Housing
Short term housing which goes beyond rental housing is one of the critical and unmet need of the urban migrants. Cities are catering these needs through serviced apartments but problem lies in when it comes to low income group. So solution lies in creating short term affordable housing for low income groups so that people do not create alternate make shifts.
Mission Indradhanush 2.0: reiterating India’s commitment to vaccines for all
UNIVERSAL IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMME
- Immunization Programme is one of the key interventions for protection of children from life threatening conditions, which are preventable. It is one of the largest immunization programme in the world and a major public health intervention in the country.
- Immunization Programme in India was introduced in 1978 as Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI)
- The programme gained momentum in 1985 and was expanded as Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) to be implemented in phased manner to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90.
- UIP become a part of Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme in 1992 Since, 1997, immunization activities have been an important component of National Reproductive and Child Health Programme and is currently one of the key areas under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) since 2005
- Under the Universal Immunization Programme, Government of India is providing vaccination to prevent seven vaccine preventable diseases i.e.
- Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B, Hiaemophilus influenza type b (Hib) and Diarrhea
Despite being operational for many years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life.
To strengthen and re-energize the programme and achieve full immunization coverage for all children and pregnant women at a rapid pace, the Government of India launched “Mission Indradhanush” in December 2014.
Goal of Mission Indradhanush:
The ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush is to ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women. The Government has identified 201 high focus districts across 28 states in the country that have the highest number of partially immunized and unimmunized children.
Earlier the increase in full immunization coverage was 1% per year which has increased to 6.7% per year through the first two phases of Mission Indradhanush. Four phases of Mission Indradhanush have been conducted till August 2017 and more than 2.53 crore children and 68 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)
To further intensify the immunization programme, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) on October 8, 2017. Through this programme, Government of India aims to reach each and every child up to two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme/UIP. The focus of special drive was to improve immunisation coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunisation to more than 90% by December 2018. Special attention was given to unserved/low coverage pockets in sub-centre and urban slums with migratory population. The focus was also on the urban settlements and cities identified under National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).
Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0
To boost the routine immunization coverage in the country, Government of India has introduced Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0 to ensure reaching the unreached with all available vaccines and accelerate the coverage of children and pregnant women in the identified districts and blocks from December 2019-March 2020.
With the launch of Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0, India has the opportunity to achieve further reductions in deaths among children under five years of age, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending preventable child deaths by 2030.
Several ministries, including the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs and others have come together to make the mission a resounding success and support the central government in ensuring the benefits of vaccines reach the last mile.
The salient features of IMI 2.0 are:
- Conduction of four rounds of immunization activity over 7 working days excluding the RI days, Sundays and holidays.
- Enhanced immunization session with flexible timing, mobile session and mobilization by other departments.
- Enhanced focus on left outs, dropouts, and resistant families and hard to reach areas.
- Focus on urban, underserved population and tribal areas.
- Inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination.
- Enhance political, administrative and financial commitment, through advocacy.
- IMI 2.0 drive is being conducted in the selected districts and urban cities between Dec 2019 – March 2020
Developing Natural Forest Cover
A systematic approach of forest management to sustain the ecological balance and stability of the forest i.e. natural forest regeneration is gaining momentum in India.
Forest Renewal: Natural Regeneration or Tree Planting?
Forest regeneration is the process by which new tree seedlings become established after forest trees have been harvested or have died from fire, insects, or disease. Regeneration is key to sustainable forestry and can be accomplished through two basic approaches:
- natural regeneration, which occurs when new seedlings or sprouts are produced by trees left on or near the site (as with aspen)
- artificial regeneration, more commonly known as tree planting.
It is well accepted that forests that have been cleared in diversion phases can only be compensated through natural regeneration rather than mere planting.
Miyawaki principles of natural forests
Akira Miyawaki a well known Japanese botanist, plant ecologist and expert of regeneration of natural vegetation on degraded land invented the miyawaki restoration technique to protect the lowlands against natural calamities like tsunami.
Yadari Natural forest establishment model(YNF)
A method of developing a natural forest in the degraded forest areas is developed in a cost effective manner in Telangana. The principles of Miyawaki method and the local practices and local material are utilized in developing this method.
The basic principle behind the man-made forest at Yadadri is a
- high-density plantation of diverse local species in small areas.
- There is no defined spacing between the plants and about 10,000 plants are required per hectare.
- The success of human-made forest depends on various elements like site selection, development, soil nutrient enrichment, species selection, pits’ dimension, planting pattern, usage of organic bio-fertilisers, agricultural waste, litter, vegetable waste, and post-planting management including irrigation schedule.
Site demarcation and clearance are the most critical factors in establishing a human-made forest. The area should have less than 0.1 forest cover, and it is necessary to demarcate the area and clear the site of existing unwanted vegetation (except trees).
The establishment cost of YNF model is Rs 2 lakh/acre or Rs 5 lakh/hectare. The quality of the plants used and species selection is essential in this model. It’s advisable to study local areas and then choose the native species for better survival percentage.
Addressing stubble burning with Cooperative Model
- Air pollution caused by straw burning is an annual phenomenon.
- Punjab, the largest producer of rice in the country, is largely blamed for it, but other northern rice-producing states such as Haryana, UP and Delhi are no less responsible.
- Setting stubble afire is a compulsion for the farmer in view of the adopted cropping pattern. The only reason for burning this asset that can yield income and improve soil fertility is the short window between harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
- Farmers have limited access to machinery to dispose of the straw and clear the field for wheat well in time.
- Apart from the burning of paddy straw, the state is grappling with issues such as the overuse of chemicals and the depletion in the water table.
Straw burning can be curbed through other measures, such as
- manufacture of paper and cardboard, and
- The production of mushroom where paddy straw can be used as raw material.
But there are doubts whether an individual farmer can install such a unit irrespective of the size of his farm.
The cooperative model, already implemented in the dairy sector, is the most viable option to address this problem. There is a need for at least two cardboard and paper manufacturing units in every block. The cooperative society of the local area, with the membership of farmers and farm labourers, can be formed .
There is immense potential for the marketing of mushrooms in India and abroad, but its farming is subject to constraints for the individual farmer. The extraction of biogas needs technical help along with extension service. But the co-operative umbrella on the same pattern can help farmers and farm labourers throughout the state.
Straw burning must be stopped instantly, but considering the micro as well as macro aspects, we need alternative measures. The cooperative model is viable and sustainable. Small-scale farmers would not adopt any other crop where there is a risk factor due to fluctuating prices and yield. What they want is assured income rather than opting for ‘unreliable’ commercial crops.
Consumer protection act 2019: a new milestone in empowering consumers
- The Indian consumer market has gone through a drastic change over the last two decades with the advent of digital technologies internet, rapid penetration of e-commerce, smart phones, and cloud technologies.
- The Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986 being the foremost legislature for protecting the rights of the consumers had become archaic and does not cover rapid changes in the consumer marketplaces, especially those dealing with online shopping, teleshopping, product recall, unsafe contracts, and misleading advertisements.
- Therefore, it was felt to replace it with the Consumer Protection Act, 20 19
Justice delayed is justice denied
With the growing number of pending cases in the consumer courts and huge delays in providing speedy justice to the consumers for petty amounts, the need of the hour was to bring in a new legislature to empower the consumers. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides for the protection of consumers and fast-track alternatives so that justice reaches to the aggrieved consumers immediately.
Shortcomings in the CPA, 1986
Some of the lacuna of the CPA. 1986 are
- The CPA, 1986 has become outdated and does not consider rapid changes in consumer marketplace.
- The consumer commissions have been overburdened with pending cases and the buyer-seller contract is tilted in favour of the seller. Further the procedures are becoming expensive and time consuming.
- it has been seen that there are more than 400 posts of President and members in various consumer forums which are lying vacant.
- Consumer commissions are functioning with staff deputed from other departments who do not have any experience in judicial practices.
- Many times, it is seen that the award ordered by consumer commissions is very meagre and the consumer has to run from pillar to post to get the orders implemented.
- There has been lack of proper coordination among the President and members of the consumer commissions for timely adjudication of cases and quite often around ten or fifteen adjournments are allowed.
- The President of the National Commission/State Commissions are not empowered to take up suo motu action in consideration of the damages affecting a sizable number of population, e.g., misleading advertisements.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The objective of the Act is to provide for protection of the interests of consumers and to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes. Some of the highlights of the Consumer Protection Act.2019 are
- The definition of ‘Consumer’ would include both offline and online consumer.
- Establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers, to investigate and intervene when necessary to prevent consumer detriment arising from unfair trade practices, and to initiate class action including enforcing recall, refund and retuin of products.
- The pecuniary jurisdiction of adjudicatory bodies increased in case of District Commission to Rs. I crore, in case of State Commission between I crore to 10 crore, and for National Commission, above Rs 10 crore.
- The Bill also lists punitive actions against those who are found to be manufacturing, storing, distributing, Selling, or importing products that are spurious or contain adulterants.
- Provisions for ‘product liability” action for or on account of harm caused by or resulting from any product by way of fixing the liability of a manufacturer to a claimant.
- Provision for “mediation” as an Alternative Dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism which aims at giving legislative basis to resolution of consumer disputes through mediation, thus making the process less cumbersome, simple, and quicker. This will be done under the aegis of the consumer fora.
- E-commerce guidelines would be mandatory under consumer protection law which would include 14-day deadline to effect refund request.
- The e-commerce companies would also be required to ensure that personally identifiable information of customers are protected.
- Under CPA, 1986 Central Government or State Governments are empowered to file a legal case against manufactures if they come across defective products, deficiency in service, unfair trade practice, or a restrictive trade practice.
- Section 74 of New Consumer Protection Act mentions that State Government would establish a consumer mediation cell which would be attached to consumer courts & each of regional benches. Every consumer mediation cell would submit a quarterly report to District Commission, State Commission, or National Commission to which it would be attached, thus, every consumer mediation cell would maintain:
- a) a list of empanelled mediators;
- b) a list of cases handled by cell;
- c) Record of proceeding; &
- d) Any other information as may be specified by regulations.