Consumer rights: Kerala catches them young

By Liz Mathew, IANS

New Delhi : Smart young consumers who will not be taken for a ride by retailers – that’s what Kerala is hoping to churn out through the novel consumer clubs in its schools.

Support TwoCircles

The clubs are being launched at a time when the southern state is alarmed over ‘cheating’ in the quantity and quality of products sold at retail outlets, said state Civil Supplies Minister C. Diwakaran.

He said there had been many complaints about the quantity of self-packed goods – like pulses and food grains – that are distributed through Big Bazar, Reliance outlets etc.

“We have to promote awareness among children against such cheating. The government has decided to introduce consumer clubs in senior school,” Diwakaran, who is also in charge of consumer affairs, told IANS here.

“Schoolchildren will be involved in various consumer welfare and consumer protection activities. The consumer clubs on the lines of eco clubs are being set up under a scheme of the state’s ministry of environment and forests,” he said.

The scheme aims to educate children about the rights of consumers as provided under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and strengthen the consumer movement.

“Awareness among students would prevent cheating on weights and quality of products,” the minister said.

Under the scheme, every recognised school should have at least one consumer club with a minimum of 50 students who are interested in the welfare and protection of consumers and are willing to dedicate time towards this end.

Diwakaran also said the government would strengthen its public distribution system (PDS) and civil supplies outlets by modernising them.

“In fact, despite the arrival of retail giants like Walmart, Big Bazar, Pantaloon and Reliance, government-run supermarkets or civil supplies have hardly been affected.

“All the 2,500 civil supplies outlets that sell essential commodities are still very much active,” he said.

He said the government has proposed a project of Rs.570 million to modernise 14,000 ration shops across the state through which consumers would also get other essential commodities than rice, wheat and kerosene.

Diwakaran also said the state government had been taking required measures to protect consumers from “cheating” in the open market.