PTI, August 10, 2010

Protection of consumer rights is still a ‘mirage’ in Rajasthan despite several initiatives by the state government in this regard, according to a study by an NGO working on consumer awareness and protection. The recent study carried out by the Jaipur-based NGO CUTS International in 12 districts claims that delay and lurch in lab analysis and legal action is helping offenders defy the law, while system of controlling spurious drugs is also weak.
“Despite state government’s several initiatives for consumer welfare like ‘Shudh Ke Liye Yudh’, mobile laboratories to check food quality, food grain schemes etc., the condition of consumers has not changed much,” the study claims. Only 26 per cent complaints were disposed of by District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum within the prescribed period under the Consumer Protection Act 1986. Besides, only 60 per cent districts have Drug Inspectors and each has been given charge of 2 to 3 districts. The study further claims that very few drug samples were collected and no stern action was taken against those found guilty. “Apart from the quality of products, the consumers are also being cheated at petrol pump, grocery shops, sweet shops etc., but the district weight and measures (legal metrology) inspectors, responsible to ensure the accuracy of weights and measures and standard of packaged commodities, are not taking proactive steps to check this,” it says.

The study was carried out in Tonk, Chittorgarh, Kota, Bundi, Alwar, Banswara, Jodhpur, Jalore, Churu, Sikar, Dholpur and Dausa under the ‘Grassroots Reachout and Networking in Rajasthan through Consumer Action’ project supported by Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India,” according to a CUTS official.

However, according to Principle Secretary (Food) to the state government O P Meena, “the state government took initiatives for the welfare of the consumers like Shudh Ke Liye Yudh some time ago and initial results as per our observation are satisfactory.” He said he was not aware of any such study and its findings.

Project Coordinator of the NGO, Amarjeet Singh said the study was carried out in May and June and the finding would be submitted to the Centre and state governments soon. The study was based on the data of 2008 and 2009 on some Central and state government departments. We studied the number of complaints, percentage of disposal of cases and actions of the departments at district level. Based on this, we did an analysis and prepared the report,” Singh said. “The NGO is working on consumer awareness and protection, trade, governance and regulatory issues since 1983.

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