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Government to set up expert groups to find out new changes

New Delhi, Aug 17: In a bid to address e-waste and provide relief to consumers, the government on Wednesday said it will constitute expert groups to adopt common chargers for mobiles and all portable electronic devices. A decision in this regard was taken after an hour-long meeting with stakeholders, chaired by Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, here.

The meeting was attended by Ajay Choudhary, Chairman of Electronics Products Innovation Consortium (EPIC) Foundation and Founder of HCL; Rajkumar Rishi, President, Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (MAIT); Pankaj Mohindroo, President, India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA); Eric Braganza, President of the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEMA); and Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers Association (IEEMA) President Vipul Ray.

Lava International Limited Chairman and Managing Director Hari Om Rai, representatives of industry bodies FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM as well as IIT Kanpur and IIT BHU were also present in the meeting held in hybrid mode.

After the meeting, Singh said: “It is a complex issue. There is a situation in the manufacture of chargers in India. We have to understand everyone’s point of view – industry, users, manufacturers and the environment – before taking a final decision.”

The Consumer Affairs Secretary said that each stakeholder shared a different approach and the impact of shifting to a common charger, acknowledging the need to address the growing environmental concerns of e-waste. Before making changes, the stakeholders felt that there is a need to evaluate the impact as India is a manufacturer and exporter of chargers in many countries. He also said that this should not be forced as maximum number of people in India are low cost feature phone users and moving to a common charger may increase the price of feature phones.

The Secretary further said that India may initially think of shifting to two types of chargers – USB Type-C and some other chargers. Given these complexities, he said, “we have decided to form an expert group to study and submit recommendations within two months.” Separate expert groups will be set up this month to study charging ports used in mobile and feature phones, laptops and tablets and wearable electronic devices.

After the meeting, Ajay Choudhary, Chairman of Epic and Founder of HCL, said that a common charger would help address the e-waste problem. However, the government needs to see how a common charger strategy is possible as a large market segment still uses feature phones. In the last 4-5 years, there has been a strong movement for USB Type-C chargers for most products. He added that many home consumers use feature phones that do not have USB-C ports and this is a challenge.

“In the long run, a USB Type-C charger makes a lot of sense because it has two advantages. It has fast charging and can be used for many products like 65W or less,” Choudhary said. According to ICEA President Pankaj Mohindroo, the move to adopt a common charger has been taken by Europe alone, which has a market size of 30-350 million chargers for smartphones and other phones as compared to 200 million in India. The rest of the world is not thinking in this direction.

India, being a major powerhouse for manufacturing of chargers, is shifting from mobile phone chargers to laptop and e-vehicle charging and this momentum should be maintained. Hence, a balanced approach is essential while switching to a common charger for all mobile and portable electronic devices, he said.

“We also need to see if this will benefit consumers as the rationalization has already been done. Now, 98 percent of smart phones have Type-C chargers and feature phones have Micro-USB. In a way, mobiles The phone has been rationalised. A normal charger has already been installed.” Currently, the incompatibility of the ports of existing chargers forces consumers to buy a different charger every time they buy a new device.

Recently, the European Union announced the adoption of a USB-C port common charging standard for small electronic devices by 2024. A similar demand has been made in America as well.


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