With the intention to strengthen India’s chemical and petrochemical sector, the Government of India is looking at a paradigm shift in the outlook towards utilisation of crude oil. “From a consuming economy, we have to become a producing economy. The entire growth story of India rests on the chemical and petrochemical industry. We want this industry to be number one in the world. But for that, we need a paradigm shift in utilising crude oil. How do you milk crude? You extract fuel from it. But after extracting fuel, the carbon can be extracted further up to butane. Then, it will give a boost to the industry. But till now, all the previous governments have thought only of extracting fuel from crude. No one thought in this direction of extracting carbon further,” said Ananth Kumar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers.
In line with this paradigm shift, the government plans to create 22 chemical hubs in the country in the 22 refineries which extract crude and make fuel. “All the related sectors (for further extraction of carbon) will come up around these 22 chemical hubs. All the necessary infrastructure, environment, logistics will be provided to them there,” the minister said. The overall investment in this field in the coming two years is going to be $50 billion.
The minister was speaking during the launch of the “India Chem 2016”, the ninth biennial international exhibition and conference to be held in Mumbai between 1-3 September this year. In line with strengthening the Make in India campaign, the India Chem exhibition and conference will attract investments and opportunities in the field of chemicals and petro-chemicals. At present, India is sixth in the world and third in Asia in terms of size of the chemical industry. The Indian industry is worth $108.4 billion, which is 3% of the global chemical industry.
EXPERTS VOICE CONCERN
By 2025, India will become the world’s largest chemical and petrochemical country. However, if India doesn’t act now to focus on production, it will become the largest import-based economy, experts fear. “We get naphthalene from China. The petrochemical industry relies on import. By 2025, India will be the world’s largest petrochemical country. But if we don’t do anything now, our economy will be largely import-based,” said Deepak Mehta, chairperson of FICCI chemicals committee and vice-chairperson and MD of Deepak Nitrate Limited.
Minister Ananth Kumar has assured industry leaders that environmental clearances for cluster chemical industries will become easier, provided the companies promise strict effluent treatment and environmental protection. The government aims at honouring the investments made by industrialists in chemicals and petrochemicals, he said. The minister recently held meetings with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, and sought quick clearances for chemical and petrochemical cluster industries.
The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers will soon launch a special facilitation cell to expedite the clearance process for chemical and petrochemical industries. It will work as a special division which will coordinate between various departments for facilitating permits. “We will accelerate ground field expansion. We will be in touch with the state governments for coordination of infrastructure facilities like railways, highways, power, water, communication,” Ananth Kumar said.
The Centre is also thinking of setting up CICETs on the lines of CIPETs (Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology). “For human resource development, there should be one specialised institution for chemical engineering. We have got CIPETs for plastics. But there is none for chemicals. On the line of CIPET, we will formulate Central Institutions of Chemical Engineering and Technology. I want CIPET to play mentor to CICET. CIPET has seen great success in the past two years,” he said.
Today, there are 29 CIPETs in the country, which generate 65,000 technicians and plastics engineers. By the end of 2016, CIPETs will generate one lakh technicians and engineers, the minister said.