NEW DELHI (TIP): The Indian penchant for gold and absence of any measures to protect consumers from unscrupulous jewellers has prompted the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to ask the government to enforce compulsory hallmarking of gold jewellery. As per CAG, not just has the proposal for covering hallmarking under mandatory certification, initiated way back in 2006, not materialised even after six year, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) — the administrative authority of hallmarking — has not been conducting the required number of surprise surveillance visits, thereby leading to the possibility of inadequate compliance of existing standards increasing substantially. “The BIS Act had not been amended to cover hallmarking under mandatory certification. Meanwhile, the buyers of jewellery continued to suffer,” the auditor said. “The Consumer Affairs Ministry and the BIS may consider bringing the hallmarking of gold jewellery under mandatory certification so as to safeguard the interest of the consumers,” it asserted. Notably, the World Gold Council data reveals that India imports about 800 tonnes of gold every year, of which 80 per cent — as much as 640 tonnes — is used for making jewellery. But now that the prices have zoomed past the Rs 30,000-mark, the precious yellow metal is no longer just a women’s desire but has become a key constituent of any hardcore investor’s portfolio. Hallmarking is the official recording of the proportionate content of the precious metal in a precious metal article. In India gold hallmarking was launched by the BIS in April 2000 with the objective of providing third party assurance to consumers regarding the purity of gold. The practice, however, is purely voluntary at present.