Sandesh Das, a young 28-year old mechanical engineer with a mid-sized shipping company was totally ecstatic when he received the keys to his dream home within a newly developed housing complex in Mira Road, an extended suburb on Mumbai’s outskirts. After a decade long struggle and saving every penny, Sandesh moved into his own dream home along with his wife and one-year old toddler.
However, Sandesh’s happiness may be short-lived since cracks and leakages began appearing within two years of moving into his new residence. In spite of the developer’s good repute - these irregularities can occur if spurious construction materials such as counterfeit steel products have been used in beams or pillars. These counterfeit steel products are packaged as products from well-known brands and sold to the unaware buyers or may be even reputed and honest developers.
The menace of counterfeit steel products isn’t merely restricted to construction – it has affected industries such as automobile, manufacturing, railways and many more. The usage of such counterfeit steel products isn’t merely a financial loss or brand damage to manufacturers and users but can also potentially lead to loss of precious lives.
Steel in a core sector with vast applications across critical manufacturing and infrastructural functions. One would not be able to even fathom the enormous loss in terms of property and lives if a dam or bridge constructed with counterfeit steel were to get damaged.
It is unfortunate that counterfeiting of steel products is looked upon as merely a minor issue of trademark infringement. Without an iota of doubt, the counterfeiting of steel products is not only a threat to property and lives but also undermines buyer confidence thereby lowering demand and hurting industry’s long term growth prospects.
The counterfeiting of steel products is also a huge revenue loss to the governmental exchequer since these dubious manufacturers don’t pay any taxes on such spurious products. In addition, such counterfeit steel products cannot be tracked like genuine products and hence manufacturer’s liability remains minimal in case of accidents.
Keeping in mind the nation and industry’s larger interests, JSW Steel has relentlessly campaigned to halt sale of counterfeit steel products. Towards earnestly achieving this goal, it has carried out raids along with local authorities at Kochi, Nagpur, Bikaner and Mumbai in recent months.
The steel sector contributes more than two per cent of the country's GDP and employs around 20 lakh workers in steel/allied sectors. Rapid rise in production has resulted in India becoming the third largest producer of crude steel in 2015 as well as in 2016. If counterfeiting of steel products is not halted immediately, it can affect the country’s GDP and also impact a sector employing lakhs of workers.
No nation or government can allow a core sector such as the steel industry to be threatened by unscrupulous practices thereby undermining the entire industry’s long term growth. The steel companies – both private and public sector are conducting raids to penalize errant manufacturers and distributors. However, there is an urgent need for a united strategy with governmental agencies and steel manufacturers instead of piecemeal approach towards mitigating the menace of counterfeit products.