- This was the final seminar of the current phase of the CUTS-FES programme. The programme was attended by 72 participants out of which almost one third were women. As per the agenda of this phase of the programme, this seminar was primarily focused upon building capacities of grassroots consumer groups/Vidhyut Sudhar Samitis to enable them for advocating for their rights provided by documents such as, Consumer Charter, Standards of Performances etc.
- The programme started with CUTS representative, on behalf of CUTS-FES, introducing the objectives of the programme as well as the seminar to the participants. The success achieved by the programme so far was also briefly narrated to them. All the participants introduced themselves and explained their expectations to the seminar. People largely expressed their expectation for a sustained communication with service providers; creation of a channel to communicate each other’s concerns; ensuring better participation of consumers in the service delivery; to know about various provisions of consumer charter.
- The participants were mainly constitute of representatives of grassroots consumer organisations/groups; members of Vidhyut Sudhar Samitis; Shri B. C. Mathur, Superintendent Engineer Jodhpur Vidhyut Vitaran Nigam Limited Pali Circle; Shri R. P. Soni Superintend Engineer Rajasthan Vidhyut Prosaran Nigam Ltd.; Shri N. M. Jain Executive Engineer Jodhpur Vidhyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd. Aburoad; Shri M. R. Meena Executive Engineer Jodhpur Vidhyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd Sirohi; Shri Hiralal Chaudhary of Bharatiya Kisan Union Revdar.
- The Executive Engineer of Aburoad explained the provision of the Consumer Charter, in detail to the participants. The session was highly interactive as participants were interested to know more and more about the same.
- CUTS representative also shared the success story from village Piplod of Jhalavar district where people’s participation was successfully achieved and theft of electricity was eliminated from the village. The case highlighted the importance of collective social action as well as better coordination with the service providers.
- The seminar proved a major breakthrough as the service providers and consumer representatives, who started with a complaining tone to each other, finally ended up with agreeing upon having greater mutual cooperation and participation into the reform process.
- On many participants raising the issue of inconvenience faced by rural consumers in getting timely bills as well as collection, Shri Mathur immediately announced for distribution company tie-up with a rural cooperative bank that have extensive network in interior rural areas. Once this materialise, consumer can get their bills deposited at the nearest branch of bank. This announcement came as a big relief to the consumers as would reduce their hassle substantially.
- Admiring the CUTS-FES programme, Shri Mathur announced the dates for similar kind of interaction by organising Chaupal-Baithaks (Village Square meetings) within the Pali circle. He also urged to CUTS-FES to organise more and more such programmes at even feeder level and assured for all the cooperation.
- Another major breakthrough was of all present stakeholders agreeing upon putting in place an informal but reliable system to gather up-to-date information about the rural areas. It was decided that participant of the seminar and others interested would work as a reliable and authentic information sources about their respective areas. This would help in service provider getting up-to-date information about number of meters with broken seal in the village; theft cases, poles/transformers not in good shape; and so on. This would help the service provider to respond to such cased promptly.
Following are the some of major breakthrough achieved by this seminar:-