Kolkata, Oct 3 (UNI) The Indian Cellular Association (ICA) today claimed that nearly 75 per cent replacement batteries and accessories of about nine crore original mobile handsets in India were fake and demanded lowering of import duty on batteries to eight per cent from the current 34 per cent to combat the ever growing grey market.
Addressing a news conference here, ICA president Pankaj Mohindroo said unless import duty structure on batteries and accessories was not rationlised, the rapid growth of the fake market could not be prevented.
''Nearly nine crore original mobile handsets were sold in India in 2006-07 with service pack which includes an original battery.
However, around 70-75 per cent of the replacement battery market, which is estimated at four to five crore, is stil dominated by counterfeit batteries,'' Mr Moohindroo said.
It was estimated that over 85 per cent of the replacement batteries sold annualy in West Bengal were not original, claimed the ICA chief, who commands leadership of some 400 members in the New Delhi-based associaton.
He said the Kolkata and Mumbai ports were the main supply lines for fake spare parts, which were then despatched to almost all states of the country, including New Delhi.
Counterfeit batteries and chargers are manufactured in extremely poor conditions with manual welding which could not only damage the cellphone but also harmful to the users in case of being overcharged, Dr Gauhar Raza, a scientist with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), present in the conference, explained.
However, he could not explain the real reason behind the recent Nokia batteries scare across the country.
''The recent incidents involving overheating and bursting of mobile handset batteries is a classic fallout of use of non-standard accessoreis which lack safety mechanisms like Protection Circuit Module (PCM), that prevents overheating and overcharging, thus lending battereis the intelligence that makes it practicaly impossible for them to explode,'' Mr Raza said.
Mr Mohindroo said if an original spare battery cost about Rs 1000, fake batteries of different qualities varied between Rs 200-1,000 and looked similar to the original one in packaging.
In India, the business of spare parts is nearly Rs 3,000 crore, of which, over 50 per cent share is for batteries, added Mr Mohindroo.
He said India was going to be the second largest manufacturer of mobile handsets, approximately 250 million and the country needed to check the rampant growth of the grey market and called for government intervention in the stragetic market.