In a major relief for thousands of unorganized sector polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe manufacturers in India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is considering exempting the mandatory requirement of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) quality norms on plastics pipes, primarily made of PVC. Informed sources said that the MoEF&CC held a meeting recently with industry stakeholders and understood their concerns. Industry representatives connected with various associations and trade bodies across the country attended the meeting and shared their difficulties. Some even highlighted the negative implications of such a move on the economy and employment levels in India.

Fortunately, the concerned ministry officials heard the industry representatives and assured them of the required amendments in the existing regulations thereby addressing their concerns. Industry representatives reiterated the need for a complete elimination of use of lead as a stabilizer in PVC pipes.

“We met with the MoEF&CC officials recently and discussed the issues concerning us with regard to the mandatory BIS quality norms in PVC pipes. The officials assured us to amend the existing regulations. We are expecting an amendment notification soon,” said Fahad Hameed, Coordinator, All Kerala Small Scale PVC Pipes Manufacturers Association, an attendee to the meeting.

The MoEF&CC’s ‘soon-to-come’ amended notification is likely to remove mandatory BIS marking and registration norms. Also, the effect on ‘water test’ for lead is going to be specified rather than just ‘material test report’ as currently given. The amended notification is expected to specify the frequency of testing, rather than each state pollution control board (SPCB) is specifying it separately. Apart from that BIS has to submit a copy of test certificates to SPCB for non-ISI products manufactured in its separate jurisdictions.

PVC pipes manufacturers are hopeful that the MoEF&CC, after having an internal discussion with the BIS, will issue a timeline for the phase-wise elimination of lead in non-ISI PVC products. The MoEF&CC may require further deliberation with the industry on it, though.

Meanwhile, the meeting followed the Kerala High Court order which on October 20, 2021, had stayed the provisions that allowed BIS licensing and standard marking requirements. Under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the BIS issues ISI (Indian Standards Institution) mark registration and certification to industrial units and products, including PVC pipes, which differentiates them from the rest, and symbolizes them to be a reliable quality product.

Satish Agarwal, Director of Amba Polytubes Pvt Ltd, a rigid PVC pipes manufacturer in Alwar (Rajasthan), told Polymerupdate, “Indian consumers are very price sensitive. They demand low-priced pipes. If one manufacturer does not sell the product as demanded, then they will move to other factories that agree to supply the same products. Thus, manufacturers who deny the supply of the non-standard products as demanded, lose business to others. Hence, manufacturers are forced to supply sub-standard pipes to meet the consumers’ demand.”

While the Kerala High Court order staying implementation of a standard BIS quality norms for PVC pipes products manufactured in Kerala state jurisdiction, the MoEF&CC plans to frame a standard policy for such manufacturers throughout the country, as several other associations have also challenged the ministry’s provisions that mention the MoEF&CC’s BIS quality norms, in various regional courts.