3th training seminar under third phase of the CUTS-FES Joint Programme on “Involvement of Consumers in Power Sector Reforms in Rajasthan”

  • This seminar was the first of its kind organised by CUTS and FES at Bhilwara. It was well attended by 45 participants. The broad objectives of the programme were explained to all the participants at the beginning of the seminar. It was emphasised that while discussing the issues, the gathering must also focus upon possible solutions rather than just flagging the problems.
    1. Promoting consumer participation in the ongoing reform process was the core theme. The detailed agenda for the seminar included, discussions on various provisions of the consumer charter to representatives of the grassroots consumer organisations. Their role in ensuring compliance, explaining various mechanisms through which the consumers can get their grievances resolved, disseminating the need to other grassroots consumer organisations to join hands with distribution company for providing efficient services and imparting basic inputs for taking up people-centric advocacy was discussed in detail.
  • Shri Matadin Sharma, Additional Collector (Administration) Bhilwara, Shri R. K. Bakliwal, Superintending Engineer, Ajmer Vidhyut Vitaran Nigam Limited, Shri Hundal Vidhani, Chief Executive Officer, Zila Parishad Bhilwara, Shri Prehlad Rai Vyas Advocate and Expert on consumer issues and representatives of PRIs and grassroots consumer organisations were the participants of this seminar. A good number of women also participated.
  • The Additional Collector (Administration) appreciated the efforts being made by CUTS-FES in getting together the consumers in the reform process and urged for organising more such programmes particularly at the panchayat level. He assured all the support from district administration in this regard.
  • The Superintending Engineer explained the provisions of Consumer Charter in detail and responded to many quires of consumer representatives.
  • Shri Vyas, advocate and expert on consumer issues, conducted the session on people centred advocacy. The session was quite interactive. At the end of the session, representatives of grassroots consumer organisations collectively decided to join hands on many issues and raise their voice to the Regulatory Commission to protect the interests of common consumers.
  • The following important points emerged out of the discussions:
    1. the Distribution Company should ensure availability of sufficient number of the copies of ‘Consumer Charter’ at all gram-sabhas so that more rural consumers become aware of the provisions made under the charter, and better compliance could be hoped;
    2. the existing tariff structures does not reward those consumers who are saving electricity by using it more efficiently. This issue could be collectively raised by all consumer organisations before the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) when it conducts the next hearing for tariffs;
    3. nomination of at least one consumer representative in all dispute settlement committees should be ensured so that the credibility of decisions could be enhanced;
    4. the need for reducing the discrimination between rural and urban areas in terms of quality and quantity of supply should be examined;
    5. high voltage lines over the fields/premises of many consumers are a danger to the lives of such consumers and the Distribution Company should provide an insurance cover against any possible mishap, and
    6. the Distribution Company should associate with grassroots consumer organisations in preventing theft, meter reading and bill distribution in rural areas. Leasing of distribution feeders to them could be considered in the long run.