Consumers of gold in India lose Rs 10,000 crore annually, on account of impurity in the lustrous metal. Though average impurity levels in gold across the country are 13. 4 per cent, Bihar and Jharkhand have recorded the maximum impurity levels of 48 per cent, followed by Delhi ( 28 per cent impurity).
This was stated by Mr Yash Pal Singh, Additional Director-General, Bureau of Indian Standards, during an interview with The Tribune here today. He said each year 800 tonnes of gold, worth Rs 72,000 crore, was consumed in India. "A survey to check impurity levels in gold, was conducted across 16 cities, on the directions of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which brought out startling facts about the impurity in gold. As against the North Indian states, impurity levels are quite less in Mumbai (13- 15 per cent) and Chennai (10- 12 per cent)," he said.
Mr Yash Pal Singh said lack of consumer awareness was the main reason why such high impurity levels were prevalent in the yellow metal. "In this scenario, hallmarking of all gold jewellery is the only option to check impurity and ensure that customers get the real value for money. Hallmarking is a scientific system, which is slowly gaining momentum across the country," he said.
So far, about 2500 jewellers across the country have obtained licences for selling hallmarked jewelery. In North India, comprising the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, only 166 jewellers have so far obtained licences for selling hallmarked jewellery.
The Additional Director-General, BIS, said about 40 hallmarking centres had been established across the country.
"Though there are five such centres in Delhi, the first centre north of Delhi, is now being set up at Ludhiana. This centre will be functional within the next six months. We also propose to set up hallmarking centres at Gurgaon, Panipat, Chandigarh, Solan, Amritsar and Jammu," he said.
Mr Yash Pal Singh said though it was mandatory to sell only hallmarked jewellery from January 1, 2008, jewellers were misleading consumers by saying that hallmarking would make jewellery prices go up drastically, and that it was a very lengthy procedure. "Some jewellers have also been selling jewellery with fake hallmarking. Realising this, The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has launched a media awareness campaign to propagate hallmarked jewellery. We are in the process of targeting consumers, so that they demand hallmarked jewellery," he said.