The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rap for quality watchdog

New Delhi, Jan. 20: Hitting out at the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for its “lethargic attitude” in checking fraud and malpractices, Sharad Yadav, minister for food, distribution and civil supplies, has said jewellers were cheating consumers to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore by selling impure gold.

He said the powers of granting ISI-mark licences would be decentralised to the bureau’s branch offices to expedite matters and ensure that “marking” keeps pace with the expansion of market. Gold jewellery, packaged drinking water and natural mineral water also come under the bureau’s ambit.

Though the bureau has some 700-odd committees and sub-committees, several sub-standard items are being dumped in the market, duping gullible consumers, Yadav said. ISI certification, he said, would be made compulsory for all these items.

According to Yadav, the numerous committees not only create confusion, but also do not allow proper delegation of power. He said the bureau was not able to publicise its work and educate people, and exhorted it to launch a multimedia campaign for nationwide dissemination of information.

Yadav was addressing the 17th meeting of the bureau in his capacity as its president. To stamp out fraud, he demanded that the gold hall-marking scheme be made compulsory.

The bureau, which is supposed to meet every six months, met after three-and-a-half years. Yadav said it was a shameful state of affairs.

According to Yadav, the Centre is actively considering bringing more consumer items such as electric appliances under the bureau’s mandatory certification scheme for the health and safety of consumers.

Yadav said the importance of the bureau cannot be underestimated when foreign companies are exporting their cheap products to India without adhering to national standards.

He referred to the emergence of the Quality Control of India, which would end the bureau’s monopoly.

in products certification.

Among the minister’s other plans were pressing into service educated, employed youth along with non-government organisations to increase consumer awareness, reducing bureau sub-committees, enrolling consumer representatives in such committees, and fine-tuning the enforcement machinery.

Currently, bureau officials have the power to enter any premises to check the ISI marking, but the bureau’s enforcement wing does not have much power.

The bureau has a number of representatives from the Centre, state governments, Union territories, consumer organisations and NGOs as also consumer-interest representatives.

The bureau recently launched a certification scheme for foreign manufacturers and products imported into India so they could obtain the “Standard Mark”, indicating conformity to the national standard.

The bureau granted 7,241 licences between December 1999 and November 30, 2002, taking the total number of licences to 16,546.

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