On Wednesday, retailers in New Market, Gariahat, Fariapukur and other parts of the city launched a “clean-up” campaign to remove unbranded ISI toys from their shelves before they were caught off guard. Confiscation of non-ISI certified toys from a retail store can result in severe action, that of a minimum penalty of Rs 1 lakh up to five times the value of the seized ‘illegal toys’, in addition to imprisonment .
Atindra Chatterjee, BIS Branch 1 manager in Kolkata, said a large number of non-ISI branded toys had been seized from some of the biggest branded stores in South City and Mani Square. The head of BIS Branch 2 in Kolkata, AK Purohit, also confirmed similar offenses in toy shops in the city center. “All toys sold in India comply with the BIS standard to ensure that they are safe for children. For example, they must not have sharp edges, they must be made from virgin plastic and it must not toxic material. The law came into force in October 2020. In January 2021, a notification was issued making it an offense to sell toys without an ISI mark. In the meantime, there have been awareness. It is only now, after a year, that we have launched raids,” Chatterjee said.
While acknowledging they were aware of the rule, retailers cited poor sales during the pandemic for the high stock of non-ISI toys in their stores. “Toy sales are down 80%. Thus, 70% of inventory at most retailers still does not have the ISI mark. We need more time to exhaust the current stock,” said a retailer at a mall.
Another retailer pointed out that sales were also affected after the market for battery-operated, high-demand Chinese-made toys disappeared following the BIS regulations. A Canning Street toy wholesaler said the watchdog agency should penalize manufacturers who still made toys without BIS certification. In Bengal, only two toy manufacturers have obtained BIS certification.
Shiv Daswani, owner of a retail chain that sells children’s products including toys, admitted he had been lucky as toys made up just 10% of his offerings and around 10% of ‘among them were non-ISIs that had not yet been sold due to the market crisis. “Toys sell when the kids are around. In this pandemic, toy sales are among the hardest hit,” he said. Rajesh Lahoti, owner of Maxwell India which makes toy parts, said many retailers were also to blame for the current situation as they hedged their bet on non-ISI toys at a lower price. “There is always resistance to change. But once that happens parents of children will breathe easy,” he said.