Twenty 20 amines and 120 azo dyes have been identified by Netherlands. Azo dyes possess a specific chemical group derived from diazonium salts. The dyes are commonly used for colouring textiles but some of them may form carcinogenic or mutagenic amines. Commerce ministry sources said total exports from India to France were $746.61 million in 1995-96. Of this, products that will be adversely hit include leather exports ($23 million), manufactured leather products ($47.2 million) and cotton ready-mades, fabrics and made up ($21 million). The ministry is worried about the adverse impact of this on total textile and leather exports from India, the mainstay of our exports.
While the scope of the German ordinance is wide and applies to any article which is intended to come into contact with the human body on a frequent basis the regulation in the Netherlands is to be more specific and it applies to clothing, footwear and bed linen.
The regulation states that it is prohibited to trade in clothing, footwear and bed linen which contains azo dyes which can cause a number of specified amines.
While the Netherlands regulation comes into effect from august 1, a transitional period of one month for orders placed before August 1. The responsibility of complying with the new regulation lies with the importer (trader) in question.
Following the German ban, the Indian government has set up laboratories to test textiles for the presence of the banned dyes and textile exports to the country are being tested before being sent. In fact, initial results of random tests on Indian textiles and leather products carried out in Germany have been found to be relatively favourable.
According to G Nickolaus, director, Leather Research Institute at Pirmasens, Germany, about 13 per cent of the leather and textile articles imported from India contained forbidden azo dyes. In comparison, the tests carried out on imports from China, Pakistan, Indonesia and Italy contained 48 per cent, 34 per cent, 22 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. In Germany, a period of six months has been granted for the banned stocks to be liquidated. The German government has clearly stipulated that no sale of any consumer product containing hazardous dyes and dyestuffs will be permitted after September 30, 1996.
The Indo German Export Promotion Project (IGEP) has over the last two years been disseminating appropriate information among the manufacturers of dyes and pigments in India as well as manufacturers and exports of textile products in particular. A full-fledged laboratory to check this is being installed at the Footwear Design and Development Institute in Noida by way of grant from the German government.
The commerce ministry has established a testing laboratory for analysing eco sensitive chemicals at a cost of Rs 2.10 crore at the Madras-based Central Leather Research Institute. The German project has helped the institute to secure accreditation from German and European authorities and counterparts.