November 07, 2008

Jaipur based advocacy organization; Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) received this year’s prestigious India Power Award for recognition for Social and Community Impact at Grassroots, at a high level function held in New Delhi. CUTS Secretary General Shri Pradeep Mehta received the award.

The Council of Power Utilities and KW Conferences Pvt. Ltd. have initiated a visible and credible platform – the INDIA POWER AWARDS – to recognize the achievements and contributions of organizations and individuals in this sector. The INDIA POWER AWARDS 2008 are being envisaged as a systematic and methodical approach to recognizing excellence in power and energy development. The award is given to CUTS for its outstanding networking and various outreach activities towards consumer empowerment by The Council of Power Utilities in association with KW Conferences and sponsored by Crompton Greaves, Mint and Mercados Energy Markets (Asia).

CUTS is having a long history in working in the power sector in Rajasthan. When the regulatory reforms was initiated in the power sector, welcoming this move, CUTS started educating the consumer groups to understand about the reforms and to participate effectively in the functioning of the regulatory bodies. While reforms were introduced in the beginning of 2000, it was felt that there was no institutional mechanism in place to represent the consumers at large, and their concerns, in organised and professional manner.

To fill the vacuum, CUTS came forward and conceptualised and initiated the programme ‘Involvement of consumers in power sector reforms in Rajasthan’ in all the districts of Rajasthan in August 2001 in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). The major objective of the programme, among others, was to facilitate active involvement of consumers in power sector reforms. This model, which is known as ‘CUTS-FES model’ is widely recognised as innovative and comprehensive approach towards enhancing the effectiveness of consumers’ voice and improving their participation in the reform process.

Besides this, CUTS was also instrumental in making the electricity distribution companies to come up with the Consumer Charter and has been involved in sending the comments on tariff structure and different policy related issues to the regulatory commission. Presently, CUTS is a member of the advisory committee of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission. CUTS is also presently implementing a ‘Project for Capacity Building on Electricity Reforms in Bangladesh, Nepal and India’ in association with NORAD, so that power sector consumers can effectively intervene in ongoing reform process to safeguard their interests.

Earlier, the World Bank has identified the ‘CUTS-FES Model’ as one of the best practice in the entire country to enhance the consumer voice and strengthen client power to ensure better service delivery to people. Independent research and documentation of this initiative was done for wide scale dissemination