'India can be global leader in chemicals, petrochemicals'

Mumbai, July 4 (IANS) India has the potential to become one of the top five countries in the chemicals and petrochemicals industry, Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar said Friday.

"The chemical industry is the backbone of the country and adopting forward looking policies and following the right approach, it can aspire to rub shoulders with the likes of China, Japan, Germany and the US," he said.

The minister was speaking here Friday at the launch of the forthcoming three-day India Chem 2014 International Conference, to be held Oct 9-11.

He added the government was preparing a policy framework to boost growth in the chemical-petrochemical sector and expressed optimism the forthcoming union Budget will have certain incentives for the industry.

"The philosophy of the new government is that it should not function merely as a regulator but should act as a facilitator," the minister said.

Ananth Kumar said his ministry has proposed a plan to establish "reverse SEZs" in Iran and Myanmar, from where the Indian chemical industry can source its materials in a cost-effective manner.

In this connection, his ministry will write to the ministry of external affairs and take up the matter with Iran and Myanmar to establish the "reverse SEZs", which will prove to be a win-win situation for both sides.

He said the government has set up specially delineated investments PCPIRs (Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Regions) in Dahej (Gujarat), Vishakhapatnam and Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), Paradip (Odisha), and Cuddalore and Nagapattinam (Tamil Nadu).

Steering committees are being formed to accelerate the implementation, he said.

He urged the industry leaders to focus on exporting finished products and speciality chemicals, moving away from the present composition of commodities and building blocks.

Stressing the government will take decisions based on national interest, Ananth Kumar said while a fair margin of profit is understandable, the projects proposed should also benefit society and nation at large by generating employment, reducing pollution and contributing to economic growth.

He made it clear the sector "strictly complies with environmental norms for sustainable growth", and the Indian companies should invest more in research and development especially in developing green technologies to reduce environmental pollution.

India Chem 2014 will serve as a platform for networking, exchange of ideas, creating awareness of new products and technologies and exploring avenues to enhance trade.

The focus of this year's mega-event - organised jointly by the department of chemicals and petrochemicals and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry - will be on growth with emphasis on sustainability and green chemistry.