Jaipur, March 17, 2010

‘CUTS is well known for its efforts to protect the common consumers from the exploitation, which does not require a certificate from anybody’, said, Babu Lal Nagar, State Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Civil Supplies, Government of Rajasthan while delivering the inaugural address after formally launching the ‘Grassroots Reach out & Networking in Rajasthan through Consumer Action’ (GRANIRCA) project. He congratulated CUTS International for the initiative. He further said that such consumer protection interventions always need the support of common masses to succeed. He said 49,000 such cases of black marketing have been reported during the “shudh keliye yudh” campaign organized by Dept. of Consumer Affairs, Government of Rajasthan. He also informed that in order to combat the current price rise it is necessary for both state and central governments to come along.
In order to address the lack of consumers’ access to adequate information, improper understanding about the redressal mechanism/procedure as well as other socio-economic vulnerabilities, CUTS in partnership with the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India under the Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF) has conceptualised the project ‘Grassroots Reach out & Networking in Rajasthan through Consumer Action’ (GRANIRCA), and was formally launched on 17 March 2010 at Hotel Country Inn, Jaipur.
‘Public awareness is the key to ensure consumer protection and there are various measures taken at state and district level to ensure awareness but unfortunately it is not reaching the grassroots. Here comes the importance of initiatives like GRANIRCA, said, Rajiv Agarwal, Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Civil Supplies while delivering the keynote address. He also congratulated CUTS international for its grassroots initiative to empower the rural masses. He further said that Dept. of Consumer Affairs, Government of India is also acting like a NGO in the government sector where there main focus is to ensure grievance redressal mechanism works properly and more and more common public is getting their complaints redressed on time’, Also he said that setting “standards” for quality of products would also help ensuring consumer protection. He also informed that there is a scheme of central government where if the state government starts a “consumer welfare fund” central government can support it financially by contributing to 75% of the whole fund. He also launched the website and the brochures of the project.
While delivering the opening remarks, Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS international spoke about the origin of the organization and its emergence as a leading consumer protection organization in the country, which began its journey with a rural development communication initiative, a wall newspaper Gram Gadar (Village Revolution). He said that he always believed that consumer empowerment start from small things and said that sadly, till today the consumer is not aware of its rights despite of the fact that “Consumer Protection Act” was brought in the country in 1986.
M.L Mehta, Former Chief Secretary and President, CUTS international in his speech said that NGOs need to group in order to reach to a wider audience. He said along with providing necessary information to the common consumers, need to put in a support system in place, which is essential for empowering the consumers. He also stressed on the important role of media (both print and visual) in taking this consumer protection movement ahead.
Justice S.K Garg, President, Rajasthan State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, in his Special address said that Rajasthan tops the charts in India when it comes to ratio of case disposals in country and gave examples of how the commission has been taking decisions to protect the consumers and to ensure that consumer rights are not in jeopardy.
In the introductory remarks George Cheriyan, Director, CUTS international flagged some of the basic consumer issues. He said consumers are facing new challenges from the market forces. Referring to the theme of the theme of ‘World Consumer Rights Day, i.e. ‘Our money, our rights’, George said consumers are having a right to access to stable, unfair and secure financial services and to protect themselves from abusive charges and unfair contracts. George further said that though the disposal rate of the cases are quite high at the national level and specifically in Rajasthan, aggrieve consumers are faced with inordinate delays. Only 32% cases are disposed within the stipulated period of 90-150 days.
Mr Amarjeet Singh, CUTS international presented the overview of the project including the objectives, activities and expected outcomes of the project, which will be implemented in 12 districts of Rajasthan thus reaching to 3327 gram panchayats and some 6250 direct beneficiaries.
More than 80 participants including representatives of CSO, Media, Government departments and private service providers, consumer activists, member of district consumer forum active participated in the meeting.