Monday, May 11, 2015

Plastic Parks-Will it fulfill the dream of achieving tectonic transformation in employment generation?

On an earlier occasion there was a criticism by this Blogger regarding the proposal to set up "Plastic" Parks in different parts of the country to increase the production of various plastic materials required by many user industries mainly because of the fact that plastic produced from fossil fuels is not a sustainable proposition in the long run. Of course there are new plastics emerging using new technologies based on renewable sources of carbon with minimum environmental pollution. One is not sure from the information available from the government regarding the product mix and technology mix being considered for setting up production units in these new "Parks". If even a part of the projected "benefits" touted by the government is achievable, it could be a game changer. However if the gap between "talk" and "act" evident in the past is any indication these parks also are not going to be different from others floated by other ministries like MFPI. Here is a gist of the grand vision projected by the concerned minister recently in a "conference" and readers are free to come to their own conclusions regarding whether this is a PR exercise or a realistic and honest effort.  

"A meeting of the Consultative Committee of Members of Parliament attached to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers was held on April 7, 2015 to discuss the progress on Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Regions (PCPIRs) and plastic parks. "Today's challenge in the sector is value addition and for that value addition, milking the crude for further proliferation of the downstream industries is needed," said Ananth Kumar, minister of chemicals& fertilizers, in the meeting. The Modi Government is targeting to achieve an investment of Rs 7,62,000 crores and generate employment for 34 lakh people in PCPIRs, in time bound manner. Already there has been an investment Rs 1,06,000 crores which has generated employment for 2.23 lakh people in various PCPIRs. The minister informed the committee members about government's initiatives to increase the number of plastic parks from 4 to 10 to catch up with the increasing demand. He also mentioned that the number of Central Institutes for Plastic Engineering and Technology (CIPET) will be increased from 23 to 100, to create additional capacity for skill development in the area. Ananth Kumar said that the Government is emphasising on reducing the consumption of non-biodegradable plastics, and re-using and re-cycling of other graded polymers. He said that the Government has instituted awards for green technology in plastic processing, to promote environment-friendly efforts in the industry." 

The figures quoted by the minister are indeed staggering to say the least. Investments to the tune of seven and half lakh crore are breath taking while generating employment for a quarter million people is highly impressive. The proposal to set up 100 R & D and training centers for skill development is mind boggling. How far these Parks will go for new green technologies cannot be foreseen since India lags far behind many other countries in developing technologies production from renewable resources and for those with biodegradable credentials. Probably to really put into operation these ideals and aspirations large scale foreign participation may be necessary which is linked to foreign investment policy of the government. All we can do at this juncture is to wish the minister good luck and hope for the best.   


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