Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Jan 08, 2003
Industry & Economy
K-G find spurs plans for fertiliser units
HYDERABAD, Jan. 7
IN the light of the recent discovery of natural gas in the Krishna-Godavari basin and West coast, the Union Government has plans to revive proposals for setting up additional ammonia and urea manufacturing capacity within the country, according to the Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr S.S. Dhindsa.
The Minister said that the gas find by Reliance Industries Ltd would increase the gas availability in the country by 60 per cent. If the gas was available at an affordable price, the whole economic scenario would change, more so for fertiliser and petrochemical plants.
Against this background, he said that there was a need for the fertiliser sector to have a fresh look at the prospects of setting up of additional ammonia and urea manufacturing capacity. He said that joint ventures for establishing chemical-fertilisers units and capital investments for changing over from naphtha as feedstock to natural gas should be explored.
Addressing a luncheon session on "Pharmaceuticals, science, public policy and partnerships" at the Partnership Summit 2003 here on Tuesday, Mr Dhindsa said that the gas find had also opened an unique opportunity for promoting the petrochemical sector which had registered high growth in the last decade. The growth in this sector was two to three times the growth of the country's gross domestic product.
In spite of its impressive performance, he said that the potential for the petrochemical sector was very large. The demand for synthetic fibre, currently 1.66 million tonnes (mt), was likely to increase to over 6.6 million tonnes by 2010-11. Similarly, the polymer demand, which was about 3.8 mt in 2001-02, was likely to increase to about 11 mt in 2011-12. To meet the growing domestic demand for polymers, 9 global size ethylene crackers needed to be set up by 2011-12.
In the pharmaceutical sector, the Minister said that the generics market would have immense opportunities in the country with drugs worth $80 billion going off patent in the next 10 years. This apart, outsourcing of production or manufacturing in areas such as formulations and herbal products would create ample opportunities for Indian companies.
Prof. David Triggle of the University of Buffalo, US, said that current century would be driven by fundamental discoveries in biology as against the 20th century that had been dominated by discovery in physics. In this context, he said India should focus on biological industry.
Referring to intellectual property rights (IPRs), Dr Triggle said that IPRs were very important in the pharmaceutical sector. However, dividing lines should be drawn in respect of IPRs between that which protects the interests of inventor and that of public good. He favoured flexible rather than rigid policies in this regard.
Mr K. Satish Reddy, Managing Director of Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd, said that the pharmaceuticals market was expected to be in the range $13 billion providing the drug industry in the country a vast scope for expansion. In fact, pharmaceutical sector was the fastest growing and most profitable industry at present.
Mr Reddy said that the Indian companies were currently focussing on getting into the area of discovery drugs. He wanted establishment of strong patent offices for the protection of IPRs. There should also be a change in the regulatory environment. The policies in this regard should address the future needs of the industry. There was a need to strike a balance between the prosperity of the pharma companies and interests of the common people.
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