Staff Reporter

BERHAMPUR: A Consumer Advice Centre, which is part of a Indo-German Collaborative pilot project in the country was inaugurated in the city on Saturday.

It is first centre to be established under this pilot project in Orissa. The next centre is to be established in Bhubaneswar soon. It was inaugurated by the State Minister for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare, Sarada Prasanna Nayak in the presence of the secretary of the department, Ashok K. Meena and Ganjam district Collector, V.K.Pandian.

The minister declared that Satish Kumar Panigrahi and Ashok Senapati were selected as the advisers of this centre.

This Consumer Advice Centre has come on the campus of the District Consumer Forum in the city. This pilot project to create awareness among the consumers regarding their rights and to save them from exploitation has materialised out of collaboration of Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) of the Union government and the German Technical Corporation (GTZ).

This project is already on in four other states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Adviser of the centre Mr. Panigrahi said this Consumer Advice Centre would open up a toll free helpline to help out consumers wherever they are. Any consumer would be able to call up the centre from the spot to complain against any exploitive practice by traders. Any consumer would also be free to come over and take advice from the centre.

This centre would hold regular campaigns in rural areas to educate peer groups especially women regarding consumer rights and their implementation. In the initial target area campaign this centre plans to aim at the Women Self Help Groups (WSHG) in the district. In case of need the centre would also take the help of law and enforcement agencies to provide justice to consumers who need help.

The project manager of this project, Nihar Ranjan Samantray said in Orissa the consumers were still ignorant about their rights and the traders were misusing this gullibility of consumers.

As an initial measure consumer protection and rights have been included in the course of Class IX students. Yet this centre has also decided to come out with printed material to build up awareness regarding consumer awareness.