Footwear manufacturers and allied industries from 13 states observed a daylong protest against the Central Government’s imposition of BIS quality certification on all footwear.

The protest was organised by the All India MSME Footwear Council. Industry leaders and MSME owners termed the government’s decision as “neither practical nor scientific”.

VKC Razak, National Chairman, All India MSME Footwear Council, said, “The standards are set without considering the manufacturing/production process, types of raw materials used, and categories of footwear products. This makes the implementation of BIS standards unrealistic.”

Several decisions were made to address the technical and practical issues involved in the implementation of mandatory BIS norms at a meeting convened by Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.

The Minister had assured that steps would be taken to make the implementation simple, practical and scientific. This includes ‘one factory, one license’; fewer tests, and that too on finished product; longer intervals between tests; feasibility of chemical tests in the current scenario; time to sell out stocks manufactured before December 31; and the options for using reprocessed materials.

None of these have materialised yet as the officers concerned are yet to suggest amendments in the rules, leading to an impasse, with only three months left before the rules kick in, said Dharmender Narula, General Convenor, All India MSME Footwear Council.

Although the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has stated that micro and small units do not come under the purview of the mandatory BIS norms, various circulars from BIS do not acknowledge this, according to footwear makers.

The protestors are demanding a definitive order from the government to exclude MSME units from the ambit of mandatory BIS norms. They also want exclusion for general-purpose sandals, slippers, school shoes, and fancy footwear, owing to their complex production process.