Cable trouble

Several cable brands are using the quality seal of BIS illegally. Pushpa Girimaji looks at unlicensed units producing sub-standard and unsafe cables. 

Itís exactly a year since electric cables and wires were brought under mandatory ISI certification. Yet, one finds in the market, cables without the required quality seal. Illegal use of the quality mark is not rare either.

During the first half of the year, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) unearthed several cable brands using its quality seal illegally. A unit in Parwanoo and another in Panchkula, for example, were branding their cables "ISI", while no such mark had been granted to the companies. While Redley Electro Plast, Parwanoo, was stamping a spurious ISI seal on its cables manufactured under the brand name of "Johnson and Excel", Tirupati Cables, Panchkula, was doing the same on its "Jonson" brand of cables. Similarly, Shipli Cable Company in Delhi was found marking "ISI" on its "Kailash and Signature" brand of cables, without obtaining the licence to do so from the BIS.

While the BIS takes action against those illegally using its standard mark or misusing it, it depends on the state governments to act against those who are manufacturing cables without the required licence from the Bureau.

And this is where the problem arises. While BIS has issued licences to more than 600 cable manufacturing units to use its quality seal, industry sources put the total number of cable manufacturers in the country at over 2000. Unless unlicensed units that are producing sub-standard, unsafe cables are proceeded against, the very purpose of bringing cables under mandatory quality certification will be defeated.

The Electrical Wires, Cables, Appliances and Protection Devices and Accessories (Quality control) Order, 2003, mandates that no person will manufacture, store for sale, distribute or sell cables that do not conform to the specified standards of the BIS and do not bear the standard mark of the Bureau, on obtaining a licence for it. And the order gives the enforcement agencies the right to deform beyond use and sell as scrap, any wires, cables, that do not conform to the standard and are sub-standard or defective.

Even though the mandatory quality certification requirement for cables (Under the Quality Control Order) came into force on August 17 last year, requiring state agencies to take action against those units that were manufacturing cables without the required licence from the BIS, the states exhibited the usual inertia when it came to implementation of the order. Apparently only now, after a reminder from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry (who have issued the quality control order under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act), the states are slowly waking up to the order. While the PVC-insulated cables for working voltages up to and including 1100 volts should have the number IS 694, the Elastomer or rubber-insulated cables should carry the number IS 9968.

Before purchasing cables and wires, one should look for the ISI mark and this number. One can also check the list of licencees provided on the BIS website at For any ISI marked product, you can look up the "Buyers guide" on the website and check the names and addresses of the licensee. Consumer rejection of brands without the ISI mark would also put an end to sub-standard cables in the market.

The quality control order applies to 15 electrical items. These are tungsten filament general services lamps, 2 ampere switches for domestic and similar purposes, switches for domestic purposes, electric radiators, stoves, electric irons and immersion water heaters cables and wires, circuit breakers for household and similar uses.