Nationwide Protest by Footwear and Allied Industries Challenges Mandatory BIS Norms
Hyderabad: In a resounding display of dissent, footwear manufacturers and allied industries spanning 13 states united on September 25, 2023, to protest against the central government’s imposition of mandatory BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) quality certification for all types of footwear. Organized by the All India MSME Footwear Council, the nationwide protest saw participation from thousands of MSME units and allied industries, along with their employees, across Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala. The protest extended its reach to social media platforms, utilizing banners, and posters to convey their grievances.
Mr. VKC Razak, National Chairman of the All India MSME Footwear Council, asserted that the BIS standards were set without due consideration for the intricacies of the manufacturing process, the types of raw materials used, and the diverse categories of footwear products. This lack of nuance, he argued, rendered the implementation of BIS standards impractical.
A meeting convened by the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Shri. Piyush Goyal, on August 5th addressed technical and practical issues surrounding the mandatory BIS norms. However, despite assurances of positive decisions, industry leaders contend that none of the proposed amendments have been realized. Dharmender Narula, General Convenor of the All India MSME Footwear Council, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating that with only three months left to implement BIS norms for all kinds of footwear, the current impasse is jeopardizing the industry.
One of the key demands of the protestors is a conclusive order from the government exempting MSME units from the mandatory BIS norms. They are also seeking exclusions for general-purpose casual shoes, non-performance sports shoes, sandals, slippers, school shoes, and fancy footwear due to their complex production processes. Despite statements from the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade asserting that micro and small units are not obligated to adhere to BIS norms, circulars from BIS reportedly do not reflect this exemption.
The industry, united in its opposition, calls for swift government action to address these concerns, emphasizing the need for a pragmatic and scientific approach to BIS standards that reflects the diverse nature of the footwear manufacturing sector.