Express Pharma

Kandla SEZ: A cauldron of opportunities

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Kandla SEZ, with its world class facilities, strategic location and technically advanced as well as customer focused support services, offers myriad growth opportunities for pharma players and is attracting significant investments from the sector. Usha Sharma reports

Kandla, situated on the Gulf of Kutch on the west coast of Gujarat, holds the distinction of being home to Asia’s first Export Processing Zone (EPZ). Set up in 1965, it was inaugurated by Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister of India. It was established to attract foreign investments and offer multiple, hassle-free business services to domestic companies. After the government announced a SEZ policy in April 2000 and the SEZ Act was passed in 2005, Kandla emerged as a leading SEZ in the country.

20160615ep20Today, the Kandla SEZ (KASEZ) is spread over 400 hectares of land and offeres ample facilities to businesses. Informing about the benefits and facilities offered at KASEZ, Upendra Vasishth, Zonal Development Commissioner – Gujarat (SEZs & EOUs) adds, “KASEZ provides world class, technically advanced, value added and customer focused support services to create an environment that allows units to grow and flourish in the global market.”

Besides these, the KASEZ’s location provides significant  logistic advantages and connectivity benefits which are unique. Vasishth elaborates, “It is a government-run SEZ, hence the rent and other user charges are less as compared to other private SEZs. At our SEZ, lands or sheds are provided without any encumbrance. KASEZ, with its strategic location, provides a competitive edge. It is also well connected to the Kandla port which is just nine kilometres away from KASEZ. The Mundra port with a modern international container terminal is also only 60 km away. There are other few small ports too in the vicinity of the SEZ.” Vasishth further points out, “Investors have total freedom to establish their units at KASEZ and produce superior products and services from a strategic location enabling them enhanced marked access. KASEZ is connected to a well developed road and rail network. Also, Bhuj Airport is just a one-hour drive from the SEZ.”

The SEZ has attracted a lot of investment from the pharma industry as it is a major exporter of generic medicines across the globe. KASEZ, with its myriad facilities and support from the government, serves as an ideal location for setting up units of pharma companies. Several well-known pharma firms like Galentic Pharma, Ipca Labs, Keval Export, Medicare Industries, Mission Pharma Logistics, Vifor Pharma and Rusan Pharma have already set up their manufacturing facilities at KASEZ.

He also reveals that many more pharma companies are likely to set up their units/ facilities at KASEZ. Giving an example, he says, “We have received an application for one unit which has been already approved in principle. As per the project report, submitted by the unit, they are planning to invest Rs 3677 lakhs over a period of five years.”

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Thus, KASEZ is drawing investment to the state and creating employment opportunities as well. The government is also providing all possible support. The Government of Gujarat has enacted Gujarat SEZ Act 2004, and Gujarat Special Economic Zone Rules, 2005. Under the Gujarat SEZ Act, the state government has given powers of labour commissioner, factory inspector etc. to the development commissioner (DC) to create a single window to ensure easier approvals. It is the DC, who meets the industries commissioner, Gujarat, periodically to sort out any issues of SEZs pending with the State Government. Moreover Gujarat has a SEZ committee chaired by Chief Secretary in which Zonal DC is also a member; this committee meets periodically to review various issues of SEZs. Vasishth informs, “SEZ policy announced by the Central Government aims at providing an internationally competitive and hassle free environment of exports. Many benefits are given to the companies who have setup their production unit/s in SEZ.”

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Kandla SEZ, since its inception, has contributed its share to the growth of Indian economy. Vasishth informs, “KASEZ has played a dynamic role in the successful saga of SEZs in our country which have contributed a lot in the economic growth in this country.”

Vasishth shares the export figures of the top three major pharma exporters at KASEZ, “Top three pharma companies are Mission Pharma, Ipca Laboratories and Rusan Pharma with exports worth Rs 24268.99 lakhs, Rs 9203.35 lakhs and Rs 3406.47 lakhs respectively.”

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Last year, KASEZ successfully completed 50 years of operations and today it has become the largest employer among all the SEZs in the country and a multi-product SEZ facility. Presently, the state has two more notified pharma SEZs including Pharmez SEZ promoted by Zydus. It has 11 units out of which seven are functional with export of Rs 1508.11 crores during 2015-16. However, being a multi-product SEZ, Kandla has a considerable pharma export business presence.

KASEZ has received a recent investment of Rs 100 crores by Rusan Pharma. It has launched a state-of-the-art R&D centre, Navin Saxena Research & Technology (NSRT), Quest Care. It is a custom-built clinical research organisation (CRO) and a specialised manufacturing unit for transdermal patches. Reportedly, Rusan Pharma will manufacture nicotine transdermal patches in India.

With a recent investment made by Rusan Pharma and Vasishth indicating that there will be many more pharma companies looking to set up their manufacturing facilities at Kandla SEZ, it is likely that in the near future, the SEZ will attract huge investment and create good employment opportunities.

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