Govt plans tech centres to meet chemical industry’s technology, manpower needs

Move aims to help the domestic chemicals and petrochemicals industry move further up from being the sixth largest in the world


A file photo of the Petronet LNG Dahej terminal.
A file photo of the Petronet LNG Dahej terminal.

New Delhi: The government is planning to build several research and development centres in high-end chemistry that will help industries produce value-added items from refinery by-products and other chemicals, a government official said. The decision aims to help the domestic chemicals and petrochemicals industry move further up from being the sixth largest in the world and the third largest in Asia after China and Japan.

Anuj Kumar Bishnoi, secretary in the ministry of chemicals and petrochemicals, said the government was working on a proposal to set up an advanced research and training institute in chemical engineering similar to the one that exists in of petrochemicals—the Chennai-based Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET).

The proposed institute to be called the Central Institute of Chemical Engineering & Technology (CICET) will offer support services to businesses in technology, design and testing and will train engineers and scientists through its various centres in different parts of the country. Operations of CIPET will also be scaled up by setting up more centres.

“The spirit of the Make in India initiative is built into the research programmes and in the large Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Regions (PCPIRs) being set up. This industry can develop products in which value addition from the basic building blocks can be up to 20 times. There can never be enough research and development,” said Bishnoi. Refinery by-products like ethylene, propylene and butadiene are the building blocks of the entire gamut of petrochemical derivatives that go into everyday use products, including detergents, paints, tyres, automobile parts, fashion accessories and cosmetics.

At present, four different PCPIRs are at different stages of development in the Vishakhapatnam-Kakinada region in Andhra Pradesh, Dahej in Gujarat, Paradeep in Odisha and Cudalore-Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu. The Central government provides road, port and rail infrastructure as well as viability gap funding to investors setting up factories, while state governments provide electricity. These investment regions, with a refinery and cracker complex surrounded by downstream chemical and petrochemical factories, are capital intensive projects which could take about 10-15 years to reach their full potential.

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