SME Times News Bureau | 31 May, 2013
In order to counter the provisions of European Union
Timber Regulation (EUTR) and other such legislations, the apex body for
promotion of handicrafts has launched the "VRIKSH" the due
diligence system that would setup benchmarking initiative and issue certification
to the member exporters.
"VRIKSH will suffice the due diligence requirements of international
regulations set by foreign countries and authenticate the procurement source as
legal based on evidential proofs. It plans to accelerate advocacy, raise
awareness and build capacity and propagate the scheme amongst the overseas
buyers," the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) said in a
press release Thursday.
The European Union launched an Action Plan in 2003 to stop illegal logging.
This Action Plan known as the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade
(FLEGT) Action Plan aims at combating the problem of illegal logging. As per
this plan, it will make it illegal from 3rd March, 2013 to place illegally
harvest timber and timber products in the EU market.
The legislation requires that due diligence is applied to
all timber first placed on the EU market and also that traders, further down
the supply chain, keep track of who timber or timber products were bought from.
A specific committee has been set up by the Council which
include member exporters, foresters, researchers, certification bodies, related
institutions to device a mechanism to create a due diligence system for
procurement of wood from the legal sources.
The key objective of the mechanism is to promote
environmentally responsible production, consumption and trade in wooden
handicrafts products in India and abroad.
Rakesh Kumar, Executive Director, EPCH said, "the
Council had taken up the matter with senior Government officials including
Finance Secretary, Commerce Secretary and DGFT and had sought their assistance
in the matter. A Notification has been issued from the O/o DGFT authorizing EPCH
to issue Certificates regarding Due Diligence in procurement of wood from legal
He further said, "The process of preparing the
standards and checklist for conformance of Indian Timber Legality Requirements
as well as due diligence requirement has been initiated and a robust mechanism
will be soon in place in India. India is among few select countries to have
taken initiative towards creating indigenous due diligence system."
More than 1.1 million artisans and craftspersons are
involved in producing wooden handicrafts. Most of them belong to economically
weaker and backward sections of the society. Therefore, exports of wooden
handicrafts are a source of employment generation, poverty alleviation and up
gradation of social status.
India is one of the major exporters of wooden
handicrafts. The exports of wooden handicrafts in the year 2012-13 amounted to
Rs. 2750 crores. Europe and USA are the major markets for Indian wooden
The exports of Handicrafts have shown an increase of Rs
4994.87 crore, from Rs. 12975.25 to Rs. 17970.12 crore, an increase of 38.50percent
in rupees term. In dollar terms, the exports have shown the increase of USD
599.24 millions from USD 2705.66 million to USD 3304.90 million up by 22.15 percent
during the period April-March 2012-13 as compared to the similar period in