The All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) has urged the government to extend the deadline for implementation of mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery to June 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of infrastructure.
In a letter written to the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ministry, GJC pitched for extending the deadline to June 2022 instead of June 2021 due to the COVID-19 situation.
Also, out of the 733 districts in the country, only 245 now have the Assaying & Hallmarking (A&H) Centres, as per Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) data, it said.
GJC has urged the BIS to ensure that there is at least one A&H Centre in each district, the council said in a statement.
"There are various operational and procedural issues in relation to the implementation of the mandatory requirement, which if unaddressed will create an obstacle for compliance of the hallmarking requirements.
"This will also severely affect the jewellery industry, leading to drastic consequences such as cessation of business, loss of livelihood, litigation and unnecessary waste of time and energy," GJC Chairman Ashish Pethe said.
Mandatory hallmarking in its current state has the potential to affect the livelihood of millions of people and will lead to huge disruption in the century's old jewellery business, he noted.
"Due to COVID-19, the jewellery business is already suffering, and mandatory hallmarking should be postponed by at least a year till the infrastructure is in place," he added.
In the representation, GJC said the government and BIS should consider the practical issues that would be faced as a result of the lack of easily accessible A&H Centres.
The government should consider directing or ensuring that private entrepreneurs set up A&H Centres in areas where there are no such facilities, it said.
GJC represents over 6,00,000 players comprising manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, laboratories, gemologists, designers and allied services in the domestic gems and jewellery industry.