Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: A day after the Centre announced to make hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts mandatory across the country from January 15, 2021, Odisha government today cautioned the jewellers in the State who are allegedly cheating customers in weight and purity.

Speaking in this connection, State Consumer Welfare Minister, Ranendra Pratap Swain informed that all jewellers have to mandatorily register their business with the Bureau of Indian Standards as the Department of Consumer Affairs will issue a notification on January 15, 2020. Jewellers and retailers will be given one year time to clear their existing stocks by January 15, 2021 when the rule will come into force.

Swain informed that not only small outlets but noted jewellers in the State have been found flouting the norms in selling gold jewelleries. Based on the reports, the government has already levied penalties on as many as 40 retailers for cheating customers.

"Our focus is to ensure that customers do not get cheated. Many a times, traders boast of providing 24 carat gold but in reality, pure gold is unusable so alloying it is necessary. But even though jewellers prepare gold of 18 carat or 22 carat, customers complain that they are charged for 22 carat gold even though they provide 14 carat gold," informed Swain.

The minister added that the new rule will help remove discrepancies in the benchmarking of the gold price across the country.

According to the BIS Act, 2016, jewellers are required to mark gold under three measurements - 14 carat, 18 carat and 22 carat. A carat is a measurement indicating the proportion of gold in an alloy out of 24 parts. So, an 18-carat gold is 18/24 parts gold.

India is the largest importer of gold, which mainly caters to the demand of the jewellery industry. In volume terms, the country imports 700-800 tonne of gold annually.

At present, there are 877 assaying and hallmarking centres in 234 district locations and 26,019 jewellers have taken BIS registration.

Sources said provisions for a fine of a minimum Rs 1 lakh and up to five times of the value of article as well as one year jail-term under the BIS Act were passed last year.