Sangeetha Unnithan

Scheme to be implemented in 100 schools in the State

State-level launch in September

Centre will give grant to consumer clubs

Thiruvananthapuram: Students from 100 selected schools in the State will be trained in protection of consumer rights, under a State-level scheme supported by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

The scheme, named Consumer Club, will offer practical training in the implementation of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran will inaugurate its district-level implementation here on Tuesday. The State-level launch is in September.

“The idea is basically to mobilise youngsters who can later act as consumer rights’ activists and campaigners. By targeting school students, we hope to take the message of consumer rights’ protection to their families,” says K.R. Jyothilal, Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department, who heads the scheme.

Although the Union Ministry initiated the scheme at the national level in 2005, the State government issued the Government Order for its implementation only in March this year.

The Union government will give each consumer club an annual grant of Rs. 10,000 for three years. A coordinating agency will monitor the activities of the clubs, provide resource persons and materials and manage the funds.

“High-school students, preferably eighth standard students, can become members of the clubs,” says D. Venugopal, general secretary, Thiruvananthapuram Jilla Upabhoktru Samithi (Thiruvananthapuram district consumer council).

“Besides monthly meetings, the clubs will convene classes and discussions on specific topics, such as the Essential Commodities Act, misrepresentations and fraudulent transactions. There will be debates, discussions, quizzes, demonstrations and street plays.”

The council is the coordinating agency for 28 schools in the district.

Each school will form a club committee of students, teachers and members of the Parent-Teacher Associations. The headmaster or principal will be its president and the District Supply Officer, coordinator. The scheme has generated much enthusiasm among consumer rights organisation in the State, but one concern is the funds.

“The government grant of Rs. 10,000 a school may not be sufficient for carrying out the activities as mentioned in the original scheme. So, there is a feeling among the coordinating agencies that they may have to mobilise funds on their own at some point,” Mr. Venugopal said.