Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday asked the plastic industry to be prepared for manufacturing top quality raw material for the medical devices sector which the government is promoting to reduce import dependence.
The minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers also said the government will do everything possible to protect the plastic industry from the impact of Covid-19.
Addressing a webinar organised by FICCI, Mandaviya said the country should become self-reliant in all critical products such as API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) and medical devices, among others.
The government has started working on a long-term and short-term policy to ensure India is not dependent on imports for critical requirements. The recent Rs 14,000 crore pharma package was announced keeping this in mind, he said.
Stating that there is a huge opportunity in the medical devices sector, the minister said, "We have come out with a supportive policy to boost investment in this sector. There will be a requirement for quality plastic."
When the medical devices manufacturing units come up in India, they should not import key raw material like plastic, he said.
"Think about manufacturing top quality plastic in India to meet the demand of the medical devices sector. In this direction, the research should begin. The comprehensive development is part of Atmanirbhar Bharat," he added.
Later in a statement, the minister said the plastic industry is playing a crucial role in the hour of need as its products are supporting the efforts of frontline warriors.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves and 1.6 million goggles will be needed for Covid-19 response every month while the pandemic lasts, he said.
"So, this indicates the need for the industry to rise to the challenge to ensure coronavirus free India. We do not want to fragment the internal market by creating internal barriers or competitive imbalances but come together as one nation and power," Mandaviya said.
Speaking on the occasion, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Secretary Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi said the current Covid-19 pandemic has created a situation for increased use of plastic bags and packaging material as safe and hygienic material for food delivery and household purposes.
This pandemic has revealed the true potential of plastics. Its importance has grown manifold during the pandemic due to demand for hazmat suits, N-95 masks, gloves, visors, goggles and shoe covers -- all of which are made of polypropylene/plastics, he said.
But in the post-Covid period, there is a need to step up recycling of these products, he added.
The secretary also said it is high time the domestic industry should gear up for the challenges, and design and develop quality products as a substitute for imported goods.
Currently, the plastic consumption in India is about 11 kg per person, which is one-tenth that of the US. It is estimated that polymer consumption is likely to grow in 2017-22 due to rapid increase in urbanisation, making it an essential material of choice, he added.