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Industry Associations and Experts Highlight Concerns Over Proposed Changes to BIS Standards of Boric Acid

In India’s transformative era of Amrit Kaal, the proposed changes to the current Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) standards of Boric Acid, influenced by the foreign entities with vested interests together with their few associated Indian manufacturers, could impede India’s End-Consumer Industry growth and lead to a surge in substandard & non-compliant imports, thereby increasing India’s import dependency.

Vivek Sharma, Senior Research Scholar, Policy Advocacy Research Centre

Recently, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs along with the BIS, based on the submissions (without evidence-based substantiation by significant scientific research) received from the Indian representatives of foreign manufacturers located in Turkey & its associated Indian manufacturer, proposed a change in the Technical Grade of Boric Acid claiming that Sulphates & Chlorides are impurities. However, it is essential to note that, in reality, these compounds serve as necessary Additives with significant benefits for the End Consumer Industry notably steel furnaces, dyes, dye intermediates, electroplating, carom board powder etc.

The BIS IS 10116:2015 specifies the addition of polishing compounds, namely Sulphate and Chloride, in the Technical Grade of Boric Acid. These polishing compounds play a crucial role as they not only inhibit the severe corrosive properties of Boric Acid but also impart the required unctuous texture.

Almost all 13 End-Consumer Associations spread across sectors in India such as the Bombay Textile Research Association, Indian Leather Technologists Associations, The Dyes & Pigments Manufacturers Association of India, Telangana Iron & Steel Manufacturers Associations, amongst others, have confirmed and reiterated the importance of retaining the current range of polishing compounds, namely Sulphates & Chlorides in Boric Acid. Furthermore, scientific experts from highly reputed research institutes such as Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay and the Institute of Chemical Technology – Mumbai have reinforced the necessity of presence of Sulphates & Chlorides in Boric Acid.

The removal of the required Sulphates & Chloride additives from Boric Acid would have a detrimental impact on the operational sustainability of the End Consumer Industries, such as iron & steel, amongst others, and would impede their growth rate. To illustrate this, let’s consider the use of Boric Acid in conjunction with ramming mass, which is utilized in the lining of induction furnaces. The presence of Sulphates & Chlorides in Boric acid, acting as polishing compounds, plays a critical role in preventing the corrosion of the furnace shell. By inhibiting the corrosion, these additives ensure the structural integrity of the furnace, preventing the risk of hot molten leakage.

While commenting on the issue, Vikram Sankaranarayanan – Executive Director, Policy Advocacy Research Centre (PARC) stated that, Changing the standards under the influence of foreign entities would expose the Indian market to substandard and non-compliant Boric Acid imports that do not meet the specific requirements within India and its dependent industry sectors. Such a scenario contradicts the objectives of the Make in India initiative of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and would result in influx of substandard & non-compliant goods into the country.

Under three types of grades, namely Special Quality (SQ), Technical Grade & Explosive Grade, the existing standards adequately caters to the diverse requirements of Boric acid users in India. For instance, those in need of Boric acid with Chloride level below 0.05% and Sulphate content below 0.15% can utilize the Explosive grade and users requiring even lower Sulphate & Chloride content can rely on Special Quality (SQ) grade, both of which are already included in the current BIS standards. Consequently, there is no justifiable basis for making any modification to the Technical Grade of Boric Acid.

The lead policy analyst for PARC, Neeraj Deshraj opined that, “Continuing with the current standards of Boric Acid can effectively protect the interest of Indian Manufacturers, Industries & Consumers. Consequently, this will shield them from the potential risks associated with inferior products and shall play crucial role in fostering the competitiveness of overall India’s industrial ecosystem to contribute towards transforming and Making India Atmanirbhar in India’s Amrit Kaal.