We have been putting our efforts to know what is lying for the SMEs in India beyond 2020. We created a series Business Beyond 2020, wherein we continuously interact with the leaders of business associations across the country to get to know more about the trends and challenges in business.
During our journey, this time we met a man who shows a strong perspective and a vision for the betterment of our country. As an outsider to the world of chemical industries, we may have our own perceptions about how this industry works. Due to the sensitivity towards our environment and other core values, we mistake industrial sectors like chemicals or plastic to be a mere reason for the catastrophe on earth.
However, let’s brighten up the dim side of the story with the help of Mr. S. Ilanahai, Chairman and Managing Director of Cetex Petrochemical unit in Chennai, a downstream unit of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited. They are the only manufacturers of Butyl alcohol and Methyl Ethyl Keto (MEK) in India and entire South-east Asia with a capacity of 20,000 tons of secondary butanol and MEK production. He is also the president of Chemical Industries Association (CIA) that includes many SMEs of Tamil Nadu.
Reflecting upon the misconceptions about chemical industries
“Every common man misunderstands chemical industry. They think chemical industry only contributes pollution. But they don’t understand that pollution is also controlled. One should understand that our work is been closely monitored and is taken care of very seriously. We also know if we pollute, we cannot continue as it would cause damage globally. Everybody is aware that environment comes first and it needs to be protected,” says Mr. Ilanahai while answering about the factors that affect the environment and how is chemical sector misunderstood.
He urges on the fact that all the chemical industries follow and strictly abide by the norms of Board of Pollution Control and Emission. He also urges that every step of theirs is monitored by the higher authority considering environmental factors. By illuminating the positive aspect of chemical industries, he states that “Chemical industry contributes towards good employment rate and good GDP”. However, this is always over-looked by the society as damage to the environment and sustainable growth has always been the major concern of any common man.
Ideologies, aim and challenges faced by the association
He mentions that the aim of his association is to highly reduce the import of feedstock or raw materials from other countries like Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Dubai etc. “India is today importing large quantities of MEK and we are trying to replace it with our own MEK saving a lot of foreign exchange for the country.” His association strongly emphasizes on the vision of Make-in-India. He believes that Indian chemical industries have the potential to become a part of the global market independently. “Initially, India was importing INR 1,000 crore worth of chemicals. Today, we are importing around INR 1 lakh worth of chemicals from other countries which shows that there is an enormous potential for Make-in- India in the chemical sector” he adds. This can further support the idea of initiating new green field projects in India.
However, there are several challenges that the industry faces and the lack of necessary requirements to achieve this aim. India lacks in the production of raw materials. It highly depends upon the raw materials and other resources from foreign countries. A lot of our foreign exchange can be saved if we set up our own petrochemical complexes with the help of govt. We would need a strong governmental support in environment, finance, raw materials, and feedstock to establish a good line of productivity independently. However, he says that there are already two major projects lined up as of now that could be beneficial for the small-medium scale of industries. He also mentions that the clearance from the pollution board is very much necessary to start with the productivity but in India it is a time taking process. So, one should plan systematically in prior to prevent delay in their productivity.
Activities conducted by the association
The association mainly focuses on the issues of the chemical industries like energy, environment, safety and productivity. They conduct seminars, workshops, and training programs regularly for the benefit of all. Apart from this, they take up the important issues of chemical industries and represent those issues with state and central govt. They are also members of CII, ICC and other bigger organizations.
Skill development is the key area of focus; every week they conduct skill development programs. Quarterly, they conduct seminars and workshops for all the budding entrepreneurs and students who aspire in the fields of chemical engineering. They also actively take part in various industrial exhibitions nationally and internationally as they believe that it helps them in gaining good exposure to upgrade and be aware of recent trends in chemical sector.
His message to the world
“I feel that growth is important for us. Year on year a 10% of growth is mandatory. Please plan it well so that you get approval on time. Without the planning, you will not be able to grow 10% minimum every year. Secondly, energy conservation, environment protection are very important issues. Please focus on that in your industry. Today, any industry can be closed if we don’t follow the environment protection guidelines given by the government, so please focus on that and the growth rate. Skill development is very important. Train your people, help them develop because people make the difference,” concludes Mr. Ilanahai.