Minister for Food, Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Tribal Affairs, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali has represented Jammu & Kashmir State in International Consumer Day celebrations at New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister demanded banning online sellers, who are duping the consumers.The function was chaired by the Union Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan wherein dignitaries from all over India participated. Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali represented Jammu & Kashmir and presented his talks on the topic “Making digital market places fairer”.The Minister said that this year world is focusing on issues related to access to internet, online scams and better online protection. He said that Government of Jammu & Kashmir has already working on the lines to have complete checks on frauds with Consumers.About issue of access to Internet, the Minister said that access to e-commerce is important as half of the world’s population is offline and biggest thing that prevents consumer engagement in digital markets is lack of access to the internet. He said that broadband adoption in many areas remains particularly low due to poor telecommunication infrastructure and lack of electricity so there is a need to strengthen the broadband services even in the rural areas.
Zulfkar said that many areas of Jammu & Kashmir are still having problem in communication through internet and mobile and since the control on telecommunication lies with Government of India, the cellular and broadband services in Jammu & Kashmir must be strengthened. “Particular attention should be given to ensuring access for marginalized or disadvantaged groups of consumers and those in remote areas”, he added.Appealing people to beware of online frauds, the Minister said that half of the people who never shops online, blame lack of trust and major contributor to this lack of consumer trust is fear of being scammed. He said shopping online can incur unexpected and unwelcome costs for consumers and these can arise from illegal and fraudulent scams, or from unfair, unclear and confusing business practices.Quoting Australia for registration of online frauds, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali said that in March 2017, the Austrian Government-run Scamwatch website received 531 reports accounting for 95,407 US Dolar lost by consumers. He said that such practices are also being reported in India on the name of Lotteries etc and there is need to curb and keep check on such practices.He further said that there are various fake shops which are involved in diverting payments by pretending to be legitimate online sellers either with a fake website or by advertising on a genuine retailer site.
He said that consumers also fall prey to scams where they never receive an item they have paid for or receive something different from what they ordered.“I demand Government of India to ban these agencies who are fraudulently looting consumers through online services”, the Minister said appreciating US for taking action against a company. He said that in 2016, Alibaba was placed on the US government’s blacklist of “notorious markets” known for peddling counterfeit goods and similar practice need to be adopted in India.The Minister has also called upon Union Government for online protection of consumers. He said that fear of being cheated sometimes arises from the scams, sometimes from unfair, unclear and confusing business practices.Expressing satisfaction over consumer focus in J&K, the Minister said that when he took over as Minister in 2015, all Consumer Courts and bodies were defunct but now they have constituted State Consumer Redressal Commission, District Forums, State Consumer Protection Council and District Consumer Protection Council in every district of the state.He also highlighted issues related to consumer affairs of J&K. He said that J&K Government is not receiving any funding for awareness campaigns besides they have no infrastructure for District Forums. He also sought GoI help to start online grievance redressal mechanism and digitization of Legal Metrology data.