1. By his Order No. 22/82, dated 15-7-1983, the Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Eluru Division, rejected a claim of the appellants for the benefit of Notification No. 201/79 dated 2-6-1979, as amended, in respect of barium carbonate used in the manufacture of caustic soda. In doing so, he observed that barium carbonate is used to purify brine solution by removing impurities like calcium and magnesium and prepare it fit for electrolysis thus barium carbonate is used as a reagent. In appeal, the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals) upheld this decision of the Assistant Collector, observing that the test to be applied in such cases is whether from barium carbonate, caustic soda could be manufactured and the answer is clearly in the negative.
2. Before us, the representative of the appellant reiterated the point that barium carbonate is an essential input in the manufacture of caustic soda. The SDR referred to the decisions of this Bench in respect of boiler chemicals and non-ferric alum in the case of Rayalaseema Paper Mills Ltd. v. Collector of Central Excise, Hyderabad in Appeal Nos. 399/83, and 157/84, dated 15-2-1985, wherein these chemicals have not been given the benefit of Notification No. 201/79 on the basis that they are used for purification of water or removal of impurities therefrom; the act of purification is a preparatory one and hence the chemicals are not entitled to the benefit of this notification.
3. We have considered the submissions of the parties herein. Calcium and magnesium are normally present in brine, whether the source is sea water or commercial grade of sodium chloride. According to ISS-797/1976, even in an analytical grade of sodium chloride, calcium to the extent of 0.2% and magnesium to the extent of 0.1 % are permitted impurities. If we now refer to ISS-252/1973 regarding caustic soda, the permitted impurities are iron, copper and manganese, implying that caustic soda should be totally free from calcium and magnesium, natural impurities in either sodium chloride or sea water. Hence, even for the preparation of commercially acceptable grades of caustic soda, removal of calcium and magnesium is a necessity. Preparation of caustic soda from brine by electrolysis is a commercially and economically viable process. Because one of the raw materials used, viz., commercial grade sodium chloride, the need arises for removal of impurities referable to calcium and magnesium. This is done by precipitating these radicals with the aid of barium carbonate. Hence barium carbonate is a necessary chemical in the manufacture of caustic soda by a well-known commercial process. Accordingly we hold that barium carbonate is entitled to the benefit of Notification No. 201/79 when used in the preparation of caustic soda by the electrolytic process, and allow the appeal with consequent benefit to the appellants.