Manufacturers of coverall suits, a critical PPE item, will have to give a sworn affidavit to the government saying they will maintain quality standards and be liable to prosecution under law if there is a “wilful lapse” in quality.
Battling a shortage across India, the government on Wednesday revised norms for manufacture of coveralls —- considered the most essential personal protective item for frontline staff engaged in containing the spread of COVID-19. It will allow only genuine manufacturers to vie for testing their samples and be legally accountable for sub-par quality of product —- a key policy element missing in the regulation of manufacturing and testing of this item so far.
Traders getting coveralls to cash in on the captive demand in the country have, therefore, been taken out of the picture due to the revised norms. Only textile manufacturers can now apply for testing and, upon passing of samples, manufacture the item.
Another loophole plugged by the revised norms is that manufacturers will have to declare where their manufacturing units are, based on which their samples and products will be assigned a unique code.
The revised norms, shared with the two labs of the government that are engaged in testing —DRDO and SITRA in Coimbatore — say that the Unique Certification Code should “form the basis for placement of orders by HLL”, which is procuring for the government.
The new norms, framed by the Textiles Ministry, are applicable retrospectively. All codes to coverall samples assigned in March will thus have to be modified.
Officials told The Indian Express that this will ensure that substandard coveralls do not flood the market or get procured by organisations in large numbers. “The testing laboratory may be responsible for the integrity of the prototype sample submitted by the applicant,” the norms say. “It is the responsibility of the procuring organisation to complete its due diligence process before placement of the supply agreement.”
Recently, a large part of a coverall consignment from China, part of a donation, was found to be below acceptable standards in India.
As per estimates, India might need 1.5 crore coveralls for medical staff fighting COVID-19 by June. The government is trying to ramp up domestic production by identifying reliable manufacturers. It is also exploring options to import, officials said.
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