Labels, heavy fine for electronics makers flouting safety standards

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 12 2013, 16:29pm hrs
The Centre has decided to label firms as "non-serious" that do not comply with the safety standards listed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for electronic products. It is also planning to levy a penalty on such manufacturers, the quantum of which is yet to be decided.

The Centre's tough stand comes six months after the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) notified 15 electronic products that have to be registered by the manufacturers for safety testing by the BIS. Only 1,000 products have been sent for testing till now.

As part of the procedure, the department and BIS will randomly select samples of registered electronic goods to ascertain whether these goods conform to the specified standard. Products that do not conform to the standard and do not bear the words Self-declaration- conforming to Indian Standard after obtaining registration from the BIS cannot be sold. However, manufacturers who have registered for compliance testing can breathe a sigh of relief as they would be given 2-3 months to comply with the new norms.The Electronics and Information Technology Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order 2012 includes products such as video games, laptops, tablets, LCD televisions, microwave ovens and printers. The electronic goods have to be tested by a BIS approved testing laboratories. Substandard or defective goods that do not conform to the norms will be deformed beyond use by the manufacturer and disposed of as scrap. However, the order does not apply to electronic goods meant for export.

"The order will come into effect from April 3 and the industry has now woken up to this. A few companies have applied for registering their products for testing and a few others have made some effort in this regard but it is mostly the MNCs which have not complied, a DeitY official told FE.

In a meeting last week, IT and telecom minister Kapil Sibal said non serious firms that have not registered their products for safety testing and are not serious about mandating the standards will face fine, though the exact penalty is yet to be decided.

As per an official, most of these firms are manufacturing products outside India but importing and stamping them here.

"How safe are batteries that cost R1 These are substandard products and if not checked now, the situation will worsen, the official added. In 2011, Bharat Electronics that manufactures strategic defence electronic systems was advised to ensure that components of encryption products it manufactured are not imported from China. In 2009 and 2010, the government also stopped BSNL from buying wireless telecom equipment from Chinese firms Huawei Technologies and ZTE, citing spying concerns.