Consumer Awareness in Nagaland & Success Stories
FIRST Prize National Award recipient on Consumer Protection and the President of NVCO & Convenor ACAUT Nagaland(legal cell) Kezhokhoto Savi presented a topic on – ‘Consumer Awareness in Nagaland & Success Stories’ during the Two Days Training Programme of Para Legal Volunteers (PLVs) conducted by Nagaland State Legal Services Authority(NSLSA) on 21st & 22nd May, 2016 at State Institute of Rural Development(SIRD), Kohima. Mr. Savi said consumer awareness in the state is still lacking and in order to create more awareness to educate the citizens we are to take advantage of the two important event which observes every year namely ‘World Consumer Rights Day’ on 15th March and ‘National Consumers Day’ on 24th December. Mr. Savi appealed to all the PLVs to spread the message of ‘Rights and Duties’ of every citizen and it is important to create awareness on several topic such as consumer right, food security, food safety and standard, RTI, human rights, environmental issues, various government projects more importantly for BPL, villagers, etc. This is a great platform to highlight the importance of consumer awareness in its district as the PLVs are coming from all district and they asked to take initiative towards consumer welfare in all possible manner. The responsibility for the promotion and protection of consumer rights rests with all of us and more particularly with government agencies. The Voluntary Consumer Organisations(VCOs) in the state are to play an important role and it is absolutely necessary to be remain active and vigilant towards the fight against any exploitation meted to consumers. The concerned department to the government is the nodal department, the aggrieved consumer can approach District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum & State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission as the last resort as there is a facility in the manner of alternate remedy where the Nagaland State Consumer Helpline having the Toll Free No. 1800 – 345 – 3701as a central project under the ministry of consumer affairs is providing advises and guidance as to how to solve the consumer problem or disputes through telephone and the Helpline office is situated at Old Assembly Secretariat, Kohima jointly runs by NVCO and the department of consumer protection & legal metrology(LMCP). Consumer problems in the state are common with sub-standard & defective goods, deficiency services, expiry goods, adulteration, duplicate goods, excessive charges in price, etc. While calling to Toll Free one is require to introduce one’s identity and the call charges would go to Consumer Helpline office.
NVCO district-wise observation on consumer grievances & awareness status in brief:-
Tuesang, Longleng Mon & Kiphire: Consumer awareness is still very low in these four districts especially in villages/rural areas and these districts have similar consumer problems such as bad roads, prices of essential commodities and transportation/carrying charges are comparative high and the markets are equally runs by non-local and some are mostly dominated by non-locals. The supply of various items of Public Distribution System(PDS) is poor. The charges of price in medicine was highest in Kiphire more than ten years ago where 35% was charged above the printed price and slowly came to 15% and now as per the correct price in all district no pharmacies is allowed to charge any percentage but just on the printed price. Selling of expiry goods were common especially the category of ‘Best Use Before Six Months’ or more. The unfair means of weightment/scale/ balance by the traders is common in Mon including the non-local traders. Longleng is one district yet to have any voluntary consumer organization. Highest rate of fuel adulteration could be Tuesang where several vehicle owners especially government employees posted at Tuesang normally get fuel tank full at Mokokchung and even buy extra. During the Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organisation(NVCO) district tour led by its President Kezhokhoto Savi in 2013 the Eastern Naga Mothers’ Association of Tuesang blamed the Chambers of Commerce for illegally manipulating the markets by way of taking ‘Agency’ which caused price-rise in Tuesang and the tribal leaders also said that a plate of egg costing Rs.180/- in Tuesang is selling at the rate of Rs.150/- in Shamatore and so as many other items of essential commodities. The President of Pharmacies’ Union Tuesang declared that from now medicine would be sold only on the printed price/MRP admitting that charging above the printed price/MRP is wrong and illegal keeping in mind that the relevant government orders were available in the 2nd Edition-NVCO Booklet. Illegal collection of cash in the check gates continues despite of government standing order in banning all these illegalities including monthly fees. The truck drivers are to give at least Rs.20/- to Rs.50/- per vehicle to Traffic Police while unloading the goods to avoid unnecessary harassment.
Zunheboto: Multiple taxation is common in Zunheboto and the public suffers from bad roads. The civil societies had formed Steering Committee against price rise and unabated taxation in Zunheboto to fight against the illegality where citizens especially business community were served with letters demanding Rs.70,000/- and the following week another faction served a demand letter amounting to Rs.1,20,000/- . The practice of illegal syndicate and dealership system in trade was one of the main causes for price-rise in the district. In 2013 the price of one kg of potato at Rs.25/- has brought down to Rs.15/- per kilo after the ban/boycott of certain necessary essential goods being relaxed for open market. Of late the civil societies had detected that the Town Council had been charging/taking the sum of Rs.36,000/- per month from Petrol/fuel Pump owners which was never practice by other councils.
Mokokchung: Consumer awareness is comparative better in Mokokchung town but require to do more in village levels. As soon as the Govt. of India had directed all the states to charge the prices of medicine on the printed prices only, Mokokchung was the first market to follow as the pharmacies began to charge only on the printed price.
Wokha: Imposing taxation by underground factions is common in Wokha. The prices of cold drink has different prices such as chilled and not chilled. Citizens suffers from bad roads. Consumer awareness is low especially in rural areas/villages.
Peren: Having major problem in water supply. The roads are bad especially via Sainik School and taxation upon local products is common. The project for public utility was done with poor workmanship and some are not even completed. Consumer awareness is low.
Phek: Service charges such as Photostat, etc are exorbitant in Phek. The prices of fuel both petrol and diesel are not properly regulated which encourage the out-let to charge in an exorbitant manner. Consumer awareness is still low especially in rural areas/villages.
Dimapur: The practices of illegal collection of cash and imposing of multiple taxation in Dimapur as the commercial hub of the state is one major cause to price-rise. Every now and then temporary rise of prices in essential commodities including building materials is common in Dimapur. Too many pay-counters besides the two main Nagaland check-gates situated at the entry point to state/Dimapur. Several organisations/federation/associations/unions including underground factions, DMC several Toll tax collection points, pay-counter maintained by government department including Nagaland Police especially at the check-gates, etc were huge harassment to public especially transporters and business community.
Kohima: As the state capital, Kohima is the best place for fund-raise and of course several ways of fund-raise spoiled the market price and also amounts to public harassment. The unfair means of weightment/scale/balance especially practice by the butchers is common. The State Government especially the District Administration and Municipal Council has failed to regulate/control the prices of several meat shop in selling much above the KMC rate to the extent of Rs.40/- to Rs.60/- per kg. The original price tag on motor parts are removed and sold at an exorbitant rate. The workmanship in construction is poor especially roads where it does not last long including the BRTF where the causes of poor workmanship includes the uses of sub-standard and expiry materials. With just one rainy season the roads are almost spoiled and full of pot-holes. The State Government does not have any mechanism to control or regulate the prices of goods and services at a reasonable rate.
Press & Media Cell, NVCO