Chemical industry is a vital component of the growing Indian Industry which includes basic chemicals and its products such as fertilizers, varnishes, paints, petrochemicals, FMCG products, pharmaceuticals and more. This industry holds a pivotal position owing to the economic development of a country and acts as a building block for various downstream industries like papers, paints, textiles, FMCG products, pharmaceuticals and many more. As per UN Comtrade Database for 2014, India ranks 13th in the world for exports of chemicals (excluding pharmaceutical products) and ranks 9th in the world imports. However, the polymers manufacturing industries are still facing obstacles as any effort to enhance the stake of manufacturing in India’s economy will not cope up the desired results until the key co-dependencies are revolutionized to meet the booming demand. With several government initiatives, India is all set to emerge as a manufacturing hub in the near future.
Almost 99% of plastics are obtained from oil & natural gas. The monomers obtained from the petrochemical plants are agglomerated to form giant molecules comprising of thousands of carbon atoms called polymers. These polymers are later converted into plastic items using various processes like extrusion, roto-molding, blow-molding and more. A major initiative taken by the government to encourage investment in petrochemical sector and transform the country into a major hub for both national and intercontinental petrochemical manufacturing is the PCPIR. The government provides a transparent and investment friendly policy and facility regime under which integrated Petroleum, Chemicals & Petrochemical Investment Regions (PCPIRs) will be set up. PCPIR is an investment region spread across 250 sq. kms for the manufacture of local and export-related products of petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals. India is all set to boost its petrochemical manufacturing by focusing on some key areas such as feedstock, supply chain; supportive fiscal structure, facilitative policy regime, infrastructure, human resource development and R&D. PCPIR is a conglomerate of public utilities, production units, logistics, environmental protection mechanisms, residential areas and administrative services. In 2007, Government of India launched PCPIR policy and down the line in 2015, five PCPIRs have been approved across the country, with a couple more in the pipeline.
However, soon after the announcement, PCPIRs hit an unforeseen barrier owing to the downturn in the global economy in 2008 which obstructed growth through dearth of investment. All PCPIRs are anchored by government-owned oil companies, and these giants were bleeding due to the high global gas prices. Additionally, lack of commitment, proper planning from the previous government PCPIRs lacked conceptual documentations and feasibilities studies. The moment these loopholes will be overcome, India will become an important player in the global petrochemical and polymers market. Chemical and petrochemical industry which includes polymers production can be a game-changer for the Indian economy. Moreover, India has the privilege of high population and is anticipated to keep up the high economic growth which can propel the India’s plastic consumption in coming years.