Bill it all, it’s your right!

March 17, 2012 saw a small number of Bengalureans debate active citizenship. On the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day (March 15), Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) held a summit on the "state of Consumer Affairs in the City". The summit was held at Udayabhanu Kalasangha in Kempegawdanagar.

From left, Sainath NR, Sakuntala Narasimhan, Ramamurthy, Maj. Pankaj Rai
Pic: Anisha Nair

The guest speakers included Dr. Sakuntala Narasimhan, national award winning journalist and consumer protection activist, N S Ramamurthy, former senior food inspector, Public Health Institute, Retd Major Pankaj Rai, who is currently helping people fight medical negligence cases, Sainath N R from Consumer care society, an NGO, Dr. Ashok Patil – Associate professor, Chair of consumer Law and Practice, National Law School of Indian University, Mahalakshmi P, Director, NBF and Suresh N R, General Manager of NBF.

Consumer related problems from food adulteration, telecom industry and medical negligence were addressed in the summit. Sakuntala Narsimhan spoke about some of the challenges faced by the consumers. For example, the adulterated food products that are sold in shops and the tampered auto meters are a few problems that a consumer faces in day-to-day life. Sakuntala said, "do not say there is no implementation of laws. It is because we do not demand the implementation of those laws."

Attendees at the summit.
Pic: Anisha Nair

Ramamurthy, a former senior food inspector asked people to send the food samples to the food testing laboratories if there were doubts on the quality. He asked them to help of the health inspectors if the reports showed any kind of adulteration in food. People were advised to take bills for every product they purchase and informed that they can complain about anything to the consumer forum with those bills. He said, "the role of consumer is to procure the bill of the purchased item and you can avail your rights."

Dr. Ashok Patil explained about the laws and rights pertaining to consumers. Participants were informed that they can avail the auto complaint cards from any traffic police stations and use them in case of any complaints against the auto drivers.

Govindrao K, general secretary, RWA, Kalyananagar, a participant, said, "we got a lot of information from here which we will use to improve our society."

A petition was signed in the end with points of consumer rights by participants, which included points like creating a new consumer forum and appointing new officers only for the purpose of consumer protection, etc which was then sent to S V Ranganath, IAS, chief secretary, Government of Karnataka in Vidhana Soudha.

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