New Delhi: Barring big corporates, most jewellery shops remained shut on Monday (August 23) in response to a nationwide strike call given by 350-odd jewellery associations to protest the new gold hallmarking rules of the Centre, All India Gem Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) said.
The jewellery bodies are against the government’s Hallmarking Unique ID (HUID) system which they said has nothing to do with the purity of gold but is just a tracking mechanism.
Speaking with PTI, All India Gem Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) Director Dinesh Jain said, “There has been a very strong response to a nationwide strike against the HUID system. Shops are closed for a day.”
Big corporates in the jewellery sector never participate in such strikes. Mostly individual and family-run jewellery shops in all four zones are shut for a day, he said.
However, in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, shops were shut till 12.30 pm due to the Onam festival, he said.
Jain also said that the protesting jewellers will make a representation to district collectors against the gold hallmarking rules.
Mandatory gold hallmarking, a purity certification of the precious metal, has come into force from June 16 in a phased manner.
The government has identified 256 districts from 28 states and union territories for the phase-1 implementation.
Last week, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Director General Pramod Kumar Tiwari had urged jewellers’ bodies to call off the strike, saying gold hallmarking implementation has so far been a “grand success.”
BIS is implementing gold hallmarking system in the country. According to protesting jewellers’ bodies, the earlier process of gold hallmarking was better than the new HUID system which is against the principle of ‘ease of doing business’.
Jewellers’ bodies’ fear that the government may use the data being uploaded in the name of the new HUID system to crackdown on jewellers for any mismatch in stock that’s been hallmarked and sold.
“There is a practical problem in implementing the HUID system. Suppose a wholesaler has a hallmarked gold jewellery stock of 50 kg. A retailer comes to him and buys 1 kg of jewellery. It takes a few minutes to give the stock but billing with HUID on each piece of jewellery takes hours,” Jain explained.
This problem is there at every stage from wholesaler, distributor, retailer to jeweller, he said and argued that the BIS has a mandate to ensure purity of gold to consumers and it should stick to that.