House panel rejects cement standards proposed by the Bureau of StandardsLarge construction projects have been using Indian cement as the local product is not graded.
The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Monday rejected the new cement standards proposed by the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology, saying that they would reduce the quality of the building material.
The bureau had planned to classify the cement produced in Nepal into three categories indicating their strength—33, 43 and 53 grades—and issue grading certification so that they could be used for mega infrastructure projects.
Large construction projects have been using Indian cement as the local product is not graded.
“The committee will write to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply not to implement the proposed standards,” said Rojnath Pandey, spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat.
“If the Nepal Bureau wants to introduce the new standards, it should reapply to the cabinet,” he said. “Until then, it should follow the existing Cement Standard 1997.”
The House panel's directive to the Industry Ministry follows opposition from experts in mid-November that the proposed standards may degrade the quality of cement.
Dhurba Thapa, president of the Cement Manufacturers’ Association of Nepal, said that it would have been better if the committee had passed the grading system. “Maintaining the old provision will lead to an increase in cement imports for mega projects as we do not have a grading system,” he said.
“Globally, the cement industry has updated the cement standard, and we are still following the old standard that is not practical anymore,” he added. The House committee should not have taken the decision on the basis of a few complaints, he said.
The Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology claimed that the new standards had been formulated on a par with international standards, and that it had taken into account all technical and chemical aspects.
The planned Cement Standard 2019 proposes to increase the magnesium oxide content in cement from 5 to 6 percent, and the amount of insoluble residue has been proposed to be increased by 2 percent to 4 percent.
During a discussion with cement experts, they had told the committee that increasing the percentage of magnesium oxide and insoluble residue could reduce the concrete strength of any building. The cement technicians and engineers taking part in the discussion also suggested retaining the previous standard.
The bureau had anticipated examining and grading locally produced cement from November 17 as manufacturers have been doing it themselves using Indian parameters. But before the bureau could go ahead with its new proposed cement standard, the House panel directed it to shelve it.
The bureau has been saying that the new cement standard will not reduce the quality of cement as the decision to increase the magnesium oxide level to 6 percent was made in line with international cement standards.