Consumer survey of organic foods conducted

Organic foods are becoming increasingly popular in the country. However, are they safe? How true are their health claims? Why are they so expensive? In India, there are no mandatory quality standards for organic foods. To study consumer perceptions and practices with regard to organic foods, CERC conducted a consumer survey. The major findings were:

  • 99% respondents were aware of the term organic foods
  • Most thought they were ‘natural’, ‘lacking pesticides’ and ‘good for environment’
  • Incorrect perceptions included food that was ‘traditional’, ‘herbal’ or ‘without antibiotics’!
  • Only 10% bought organic foods regularly or occasionally
  • People did not buy organic foods because they were expensive, not easily available and they had doubts about the origin/source of product.
  • Organic vegetables and fruits were the most popular products followed by powdered spices.

Problems in real estate sector identified

In response to a Consumers International (CI) survey, CERC identified problems in the real estate sector in the country. Most consumers have poor knowledge of the intricacies involved in the real estate business and are prone to exploitation. Pre-purchase guidance has a vital role in this regard.

Some causes of complaints are:

  • False assurances about provision of various facilities/amenities
  • Charging of more money than agreed on the grounds of price escalation
  • Clandestine sale of disputed properties which do not have a clear title
  • Delays in handing over possession even after making full and final payments
  • Wrong measurements and usage of sub-standard materials
  • Plots sold without approval of lay out plans

CERS complains about malpractice by DISCOMs

CERS has lodged a complaint before Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) demanding action against distribution companies (DISCOMs) of Gujarat for inflating electricity bills of consumers whose meter reading could not be taken on due date. As per provisions of the Electricity Act, DISCOMs have to issue assessed bill based on consumption of last two billing cycles for consumers whose premises are found locked. They have to take exact meter reading in next cycle and adjust assessed consumption from actual reading.

Instead, DISCOMs are crediting consumers’ assessed bill in the next bill where actual meter reading has been taken. This puts consumers in a higher slab increasing their bills by 10-15%. CERS has demanded refund be given to the consumers and penalty be enforced on DISCOMs.

Govt interference in power sector criticised

CERS, in its letter to the Union Power Minister, has protested against interference of Central and State Governments in functioning of State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs). CERS has quoted recent withdrawal of increase in Power Purchase Adjustment Cost (PPAC) by Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC). DERC issued an order on 2.5-7.0% hike in PPAC for three private distribution companies of Delhi. On the very next day this order was withdrawn due to pressure from the government in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections in Delhi.

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