Policies moved from “Look-East to At-East”: Anant Kumar

The minister was delivering a keynote address at the India Chem 2016 expo

Sairaj Iyer

“We have come from Look East to At-East”, Anant Kumar, the Union minister for Chemicals, Fertilizers, and Parliamentary affairs proclaimed. The minister was delivering the keynote address at the India Chem 2016 expo, when he referred to the abundant growth opportunities, favorable climate of investments, bolstered by the Modi wave that helped investments and infrastructure reach the eastern coast.

Sharing the dais with Debi Prasad Mishra, the minister of industries of the Govt. of Odisha; Mansukh L Mandaviya the Minister of State for Ministry of Chemicals, Road Transport and Highways; Anuj Kumar Bishnoi, Secretary, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Amir Hossain Amu, MP & Minister for Industries, Government of Bangladesh and corporate leaders such as Deepak C Mehta of Deepak Nitrite Ltd and Sanjeev Gandhi from BASF, the minister offered assurance that red-tapism, and excessive delays related to either his or the environment ministry will be resolved with utmost priority.

The minister’s keynote, touched upon innovation, and concepts such as ‘inverse SEZ’. Referring to Bangladesh he said, the country seemed to be the perfect destination as a second gateway for reverse SEZ and a bilateral meeting for garnering the same has also been agreed upon by both the countries. He also expressed optimism on the spate of growth for the chemicals industry while mentioning the growth in PCPIR (Petroleum, Chemicals and Petro-Chemicals Investment Region). Although PCPIR seemed a feasible and positive policy, he invited feedback from prospective investors to fine-tune, and “make it look pragmatic”. “The Union government and the state governments have not only expanded but will also make PCPIR viable in next couple of weeks, and Orissa will soon have a PCPIR,” he declared.

The minister remained composed while mentioning that “good chemistry” and the PM’s request through an All-Party Meet provided for a smooth passage of GST within both the houses. GST has in the past 22 working days, since the Parliament adjourned, received ascent from 14 states, and “should shortly become a law”. “It is an excellent example how good chemistry can work wonders,” he remarked jokingly, continuing that a sub-20% tax should ideally lead to positive growth for the chemical industry.

The minister while concluding his address pointed out that HR policies must also be strictly adhered to. According to him, chemical industries have been mainly operating using semi or unskilled manpower, which is a “systemic-risk”. He expressed the government’s intent to launch a technical program and set up a college that would impart skill-upgradation suitable for the chemicals and fertilizers industry, “Mumbai will have the first of its kind chemicals college soon.”

The conference will have close-door discussions as well as buyer-seller meets involving various countries and organizations from the chemicals industry. However FICCI, the organizer and the ministers agreed that focus must be on sustainable development. Mansukh L Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping, Roadways expressed that managing eco-system while chasing growth was paramount. “Our Indian traditional science and technology has to be furthered as a base. The opportunity presents itself if we introspect our past for motivation and inspiration” he said, while referring to examples of the lively dyes, chemicals and engineering practices used in the sculptures and paintings at the ancient Dholavira, Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Sairaj Iyer - Sep 02, 2016 12:00 IST