Consumer Groups discuss ways and means 
of making the Regulatory Process effective

         During the Business Session-I, the consumer activist-speakers and the Principal Advisor, TRAI, 
           Mr. N.Parameswaran, are being introduced to the audience, by Mr. Amritlal Saha, President, 
                                             Consumer Protection Association, Agartala.

        To mark the Silver Jubilee of Consumer Protection Association, Agartala, a Seminar on Grievance Redressal Mechanism for Telecom Consumers, was held on 9th April, at Agartala. Consumer Protection Association, Agartala, has been functioning since 1984, serving the population of the North Eastern states. 

        In his Key note address, Dr. J.S.Sarma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), said that 2011-12 has been declared as the Year of Consumers and that TRAI would focus on the consumer issues and work out solutions to resolve them. To achieve this, he said that Shri N.Parameswaran, Principal Advisor, TRAI, has been assigned this work and he will be assisted by Shri S.K.Gupta, Advisor, TRAI. Dr. Sarma elaborated on the various steps taken by TRAI, to safeguard consumer interests. The pesky calls will be totally curbed and consumers could expect this to happen within a month or so, he added. He informed that TRAI was in the process of revising the Regulations in respect of Complaint Handling, so that the consumers are required to complain in one place only, like in a Call Centre. Thereafter, it will be the duty of the Service Provider to resolve the complaint, within a specified time frame. (Presently, consumers are required to approach multiple levels, like Call Centre, Nodal Officer, Appellate Authority, etc.) Though Mobile Number Portability has been started, there are still some issues, basically relating to contractual clauses, which need to be resolved, Dr. Sarma said. Otherwise, within the last couple of months, around 65,000 consumers have availed this facility, amounting to 75% of the total applicants, within the stipulated time of one week. Dr. Sarma assured the consumers that if they have any problem with any Service Provider, they can approach the Consumer Advocacy Groups or can directly refer the details to the TRAI. 

        Several consumer activists from across the country, representative of service providers, and others participated in the seminar. Shri B.Vaidyanathan, Chief Mentor, Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, drew the attention of the TRAI to the plight of the consumers. He felt that the Service Providers, in their anxiety to increase the customer base, have been unscrupulously distributing new mobile connections, even through the ‘Ghumtis’.  Because of the inability of these small vendors not having the facility to handle documents, subsequently the consumer suffers. While BSNL does this only through Consumer Centres, why the other service providers cannot be directed to do so or at least enforce minimum standards, he queried. He also suggested a system of certification of mobile phones, to enable the consumers to make an informed choice, as many new companies have started marketing mobile phones, including the Chinese made ones. He felt that the Call Centres, introduced by the Service Providers, mainly to reduce the overheads of the operators have become a major  issue with the consumers, as they have to face lack of knowledge, continuity and commitment. In a proactive manner, TRAI can introduce an Award for the Best Service Provider, so as to encourage healthy competition to increase service standards, he suggested. 

       Shri Amritlal Saha, Founder President, Consumer Protection Association, Agartala, organised this Seminar, in a memorable manner, in association with the Lions Club of Agartala. 


Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela