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In search of sustainable growth


20161115ep02When Ministers speak like CEOs, industry sits up and listens. The relatively newly minted state of Telangana is racing to catch up to its peers and hence it is only natural that aggression is the name of its game.

In the November 1-15 2016 issue of Express Pharma, KT Rama Rao, popularly known as KTR, Minister of Industries and Commerce, Information Technology, Urban Development and other important profiles in Government of Telangana has spelt out his vision for building the proposed Pharma City into not just a national but  global hub for the pharmaceutical sector. Of course, the state already had the building blocks for such a set up, with the likes of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Aurobindo Pharma etc. emerging from this state. Our cover story delves deeper into the plans for the Pharma City (See story: A Milestone in the Making, pages 22-26).

The state scores on the other pillars that make up this ecosystem like academic institutes etc but one area which could be a sore point could be concerns about the impact on the environment. Pharma manufacturing is one of the most polluting activities and successive governments in various states have struggled to address this issue.

Last November, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revealed the list of companies which had not responded to its directions regarding installation of continuous online pollution monitoring devices. Telangana came second on the list of defaulters/ non-responders with 117 companies. Of the 143 pharma companies in the list, the highest, 59, were from Telangana. What is worse, is that 45 of these are located around Hyderabad in Medak district, mostly in Patancheru and Jinnaram mandals, according to the CPCB list. The CPCB followed by sending closure notices to 26 pharma companies in Telangana in May this year. Again, the state was second only to Maharashtra, which topped the list with 28 pharma companies.

While these numbers are damning, the Telangana government does seem to be cracking down and forcing erring companies to clean up their act. And this is where the Pharma City comes in. In July, KTR met members of the Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association, to assure them that the Pharma City would meet all their requirements, like the provision of common effluent treatment plants and other incentives. The grouse of most pharma companies is that such facilities are not viable investments for individual companies but when provided by the government, this concern is addressed.

This seems like a very pragmatic carrot-and-stick approach. Not only will the polluting manufacturing activities be shifted out of high density residential localities like Hyderabad, the state government also gets them in one location, which will make it easier to monitor their activities. This way, the state retains a key revenue generating industry, while hopefully addressing the pollution problem as well. Let’s hope this tactic plays out as per the blueprint.

Viveka Roychowdhury

[email protected]

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