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BIS pushes for standards for all products
To check the sale of non-standard electrical and electronics Chinese items and even Indian products like helmets, toothpaste and razors etc, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has approached the government to do away with the clause that allows several such items to be sold in open market without complying with any standard.
Sources said that BIS has pushed for an ordinance or comprehensive change in the laws to make it mandatory for all products to comply with standards set for each product. At present, there are mandatory standards for only 122 category of items as per the Industrial Development Regulation Act. "We want to have freedom so that more items can be brought under the mandatory regime for health and safety of consumers," a consumer affairs department official said.
Corroborating this, BIS director general Sunil Soni said, "We strongly feel that all items sold in the country must meet certain standards. So, it's not just imported items but even our domestic products are sold without complying with any standard. Once it's made mandatory it will be an offence to sell a non-BIS mark product."
He added that international trade agreements permit no country to have separate standards for imported and domestic goods "But it gives full freedom to any country to make standards for goods being sold in that particular country to be of certain minimum quality...so only solution is to make certain standards mandatory for manufacturers," Soni said.
The DG said that in Europe there is 100% compliance and India is gradually moving towards that direction. "Standards for lot of products already exist but someone has to make them mandatory. One way for that is amendment to law and another is ordinance. We have proposed an ordinance and work for that is in advanced stage," he added.
Sources said that the agency has already taken up the issue of enforcement of the standards by manufacturers with other departments or wings that also set standards such as Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). TOI has learnt that BIS can set up a special wing that can pick up random samples from the market and carry tests to find compliance so that actions can be initiated against those selling spurious and sub-standard goods.
However, considering there will be a flood of applications for standard certifications, the government is now pushing for more "self certification" by the manufacturers. Soni said across the world, about 80% business is on self certification mode. But this does not mean that the manufacturers will have a free run.
"The manufacturers have to get their products tested through our laboratories or test centres before self certification. If later products are found flouting the norms there will be stricter penalty. We cannot have a uniform standard for such fines. All these are now being worked out," Soni said.
In the proposed amendment in the BIS Act, the consumer affairs department has pushed for the "mandatory recall" of non-standard items and compensating the consumers.
Soni also said that the BIS is approaching all agencies involved in specifying standards to come together and have a comprehensive mechanism so that consumers can get all information just from one panel placed on the products. "The panel can specify the energy efficiency and whether the product is child friendly. All these can be done by convergence," Soni said.