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Expert Opinion: In talks with Basant Sandooja on the Legal Metrology Act, 2009

As a country, India is aiming for an ambitious future of becoming a 10 Trillion Dollar economy. To stay the course India climbed in the global ease of doing business index by 60 ranks since 2009, but are the acts made back then keeping up with the pace?

In the fireside chat conducted by Avantis Regtech and hosted by Mr. Rishi Agarwal, Co-founder and CEO – Avantis with Mr. Basant Sandooja, Managing Director Avery Weigh Tronix and President WEMA as the spokesperson shared their ideas for reforms in the Legal Metrology Act, 2009.

What is the Legal Metrology Act?

According to Mr. Sandooja, the Act was passed under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in 2009 to protect the consumer. The Act covers the guidelines for package commodities, model approval, numeration system, specifies the general rules to be followed by manufacturing, trading, selling and repairing and specifies the measuring system. Since this is a Central Act, it only provides the state government with the guidelines. Due to the non-standard interpretation, the state makes its own rules and SOPs to execute them. 

What does it take to bring in a new product/model to the market?

Mr. Sandooja says that bringing a product into the market itself is a long process. Although the government is taking steps for the ease of doing business, this area needs more help. Coming to the process, he explains that if someone wants to import raw material, they will need an import licence, followed by Model Approval from RRSLs, a Manufacturing Licence and a Dealer’s Licence. A manufacturer who makes capital equipment like weighbridges may require one licence to sell all over the country, a manufacturer who makes smaller equipment will have to take it district-wise to sell all over the country. Even after selling if someone wants to repair or calibrate the product manufactured by someone else, they will require a Repairer’s Licence that may also branch out to be state-wise or district wise. The entire process may take about 12-24 Months. To obtain a Repairer’s licence, some districts demand that the person in charge of the repairs has to be of their domicile and some of them even require a permanent address for registration which means that the company needs to have their offices at multiple locations. The MNCs who have their regional office outside the country with such a structure will not be allowed to work. These rules add to the complexity faced by the manufacturer.

If I am a Grocer and I buy a weighing machine what licences do I need to get?

As the user, we don’t need a licence to use the product though it is our responsibility to get it stamped by an LMO every once in 2 years. Even if the product manufacturer has all the licences, this process is logical because after using the weights get reduced hence proper measurements are not possible. He further adds that instead of the government, private labs or the manufacturers should be allowed for the periodic stamping, if they can make the product why can’t they calibrate the same? This was his concern also for the equipment installed on-site According to him, there are approximately 1500 LMOs, as India is growing at such a fast rate, each LMO has to touch upon almost 50,000 equipment in some way and may cause delays.

What about the GATC?

Mr. Sandooja appreciated the government for the steps it is taking but adds that there is a delay. Even if GATC rules are implemented now they have a clause as they are applicable for equipment with a capacity of only up to 150 kg. His personal opinion was that if the government wants to implement, they should revise and allow all kinds of machines to get approved by GATC.

What is the status of Export?

Sharing his views on export Mr. Sandooja said that it is impossible to export the equipment with just the Indian stamp on it; the equipment needs to be sent to receive approval by the International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML) which adds to the cost and takes time. Though, if the equipment is approved by the OIML, the Indian markets accept it. He suggested that if our Regional Reference Standard Laboratories and Bureau of Indian Standards are certified by OIML, it will not only help in better standardization but will also make our products acceptable to foreign markets.

How efficient is the testing procedure in India? How about other countries?

Mr. Sandooja mentioned his concern about the inefficient testing procedures. He gave the example of the weights that are supposed to be kept for the inspection of the equipment. Depending on the state, they have to be anywhere from 10 percent to 33.3 percent of the capacity of the instrument. He suggested that the government should rethink as the weight which results in dead investment, can cost up to 1/3 of the cost of the equipment only to be used once a year. He gave an example of a more efficient way for inspection which was using pre-tested vehicles that arrive on-site, calibrate, test and certifies.

What reforms do you suggest?

According to Mr. Sandooja, we can reduce the number of licences that we require, for example, if a manufacturer gets a model approval, they should not need an import licence, no need for a manufacturer’s licence as anyone can manufacture that model. Privatisation of certifications is required as it will reduce the delay. Standardize the interpretation to remove the ambiguity and standardize the enforcement. There should also be a minimum accuracy defined to make to enhance the standards in India. Adding to this, Mr. Agarwal on behalf of Aventis says that the act carries a compliance burden of almost 50 percent and with thorough rationalization, it can be reduced.

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