Friday, January 10, 2014

Certification of Dungsam cement

A news article in today’s (10th January, 2014) Kuensel newspaper reported that the Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited can begin to export cement once the collected samples pass the lab test and a "license" is given by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

This report is inaccurate and misleading. A Bhutanese manufacturer does not require a license from an Indian authority to sell/export its products. Not even Indian manufacturers require a license from BIS to sell their products.

The BIS, which was earlier known as the Indian Standards Institute, is the national standards body in India that issues certification marks for some of the industrial products manufactured in India. It is not a licensing authority.

By the way, during my tenure as the Head of the Export Department under the Export Division of the Ministry of Trade & Industries, I visited the ISI facility in Bombay. During the Q&A session, I couldn't help but question the boss of the ISI: who tests your testing and calibrating machines? I got a huge laugh from the man.

The BIS issues a certification mark known as the ISI Mark. Any product that carries this mark is supposed to be of superior quality since they are supposed to meet the quality and manufacturing standards and practices set by the BIS. It is mandatory for certain Indian products to carry the ISI Mark - Portland cement being one among them. However, not all manufactured goods need to obtain this certification - if some manufacturers wish to do so, they can - but it is voluntary. The ISI Mark looks like this:

As I said, goods that carry the ISI Mark are supposed to be superior in quality and durability but you and I know that it is far from true - 90% of the ISI marked goods sold in Bhutan are fakes - they have been stamped as "BIS Certified" in some dingy by-lane in Siliguri.

In a sense, it makes sense to obtain BIS certification for Dungsam’s Portland cement under appropriate ISI coding - not because we need it but because Dungsam Cement hopes to be able to market their product in India. However, I am not sure that it is wise for Dungsam Cement to suspend production simply because they have not yet been issued ISI Mark by the BIS. There are other certification bodies around the world that can certify our cement as a worthy product. Not all imported goods sold in India carry the ISI Mark. As long as they carry appropriate certification marks of the certifying authority in the country of origin or any one of the recognized certifying body around the world, Indian consumers and regulatory authorities should accept the product.

Bhutan could have Dungsam cement tested and certified by any one of the independent certification bodies around the world. This should be enough for our home market as well as Indian consumers to be satisfied that the cement produced by Dungsam cement is fit for use.

The following are few of the prestigious certification bodies around the world.

Australia       :  ASI
Bangladesh   :  BSTI
China            :  SAC
Germany       :  DIN
Japan             :  JISC
Singapore      :  SPRING SG
USA              :  ANSI

Following are some of the Certification marks from around the world:


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