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No dual control on mobile device makers by DoT: Ashwini Vaishnaw

Ashwini Vaishnaw, minister for communications electronics and IT, on Monday said mobile device manufacturers would not be subject to “dual regulatory” control by the Department of Teleco­mmun­ications (DoT).

The move will bring the curtains down on a contentious battle in which mobile device makers opposed a direction from the DoT that they had to go for a mandatory testing of their phones to the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC).

However, device makers pointed out their products were tested by the Bureau of Indian Standards for similar reasons. Vaishnaw assured mobile device manufacturers they would be subject to the current light-touch regulations required to make India a manufacturing hub.

Vaishnaw told electronics manufacturers that responding to their demand for setting up electronics industrial zones — with facilities like power, water, and roads, just like what is available in China and Vietnam — the ministry had identified land in three locations.

Apart from one parcel which is railway land, most of them range from 700 acres to 1,000 acres. Some are even close to international airports and large cities. It urged stakeholders to take the initiative and start at least with one as a project.

He also said he had discussion with the central labour minister and his state counterparts to tweak labour laws for enabling electronics manufacturers to build large factories employing 40,000-100,000 workers, akin to what is done in countries like China.

Vaishnaw said the ministry had been assured that the existing rules would be tweaked to ensure that housing facilities were set up on the factory premises — a key demand as more and women work in such factories.

The need for building large-scale factories and infrastructure like housing came to the fore recently when a Foxconn factory making Apple iPhones had to be closed after women workers protested against cases of food poisoning occurring there. While Apple Inc apologised for the incident and put Foxconn under watch, the need for changes in labour laws to accommodate bigger factories was felt.

For instance, Apple’s three vendors have committed to hiring 120,000 workers, of whom 100,000 will be absorbed in the next three years. Of those, they expect 60-70 per cent of them would be women, raising issues on housing near the factory and their safety. Business Standard

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