KTR slams Centre for injustice to Telangana over Bulk Drug Parks

KTR criticized the Centre for its indifference towards the proposed Bulk Drug Park in Hyderabad Pharma City


HYDERABAD: Telangana IT Minister Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) on Friday criticised the Centre for its indifference towards the proposed Bulk Drug Park in Hyderabad Pharma City, which has already garnered global attention.

In a letter written to Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, he gave a detailed account of how injustice has been meted out to the state in the Centre's allocation of Bulk Drug Parks.

"Telangana is a State with robust pharmaceutical sector and a vibrant ecosystem conducive for accelerated sectoral growth. While the State contributes to more than 40 per cent of pharma production, it is a matter of pride that Hyderabad is also known as the Vaccine Capital of the World and played a crucial role in supplying WHO-approved vaccines to the world during the pandemic. Telangana continues to attract investments in the sector and therefore, keeping in view the sectoral growth, demand for pharma infrastructure and a robust ecosystem to support the sector towards 'atma-nirbharta', an earnest application was submitted for the 'Bulk Drug Park' Scheme.

"It was our confidence that the significant role of Hyderabad so far and its potential in steering the country towards self-sufficiency in bulk drug manufacturing will be considered objectively. Our proposal contained details of our flagship 'Pharma City' project which, spread over 19,000 acres, is world's largest pharma cluster. While this project has garnered worldwide attention, unfortunately it has not been given any consideration in the country," said KTR.

The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is a potent actor on the world stage with more than one-third contribution from Telangana, however, it is critically dependent (close to 70 percent of imports) on China for its raw materials, particularly the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and other key raw materials, KTR said.

He further stated that the issue of import dependence on pharmaceutical raw materials had been long recognized in the country and the Union government had also constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Dr.VM Katoch (former Secretary to Govt of India and Director General, ICMR) to propose ways to reduce imports. The committee, in 2015, recommended establishment of 6 mega parks of about 2,000 acres each with sufficient funding to set up all common environmental infrastructure, income tax rebate for 10 years, access to soft-loans at 7.5 per cent, among others, the letter stated.

"However, little progress was made in this direction until recently and realizing the urgency around the supply chain constraints during the onset of COVID 19 pandemic, the scheme was launched in the year 2020 with the objective of addressing the national health security threat posed by the dependence on imports from China and to be implemented on a war-footing basis to protect national interest. It may also be noted that despite this effort during this period the imports rose by 23% in April-September 2021", KTR said in his letter.

"While it is unfortunate that despite the urgency, The Union Government has taken more than two years to announce the decision on an in-principle approval, and the Telangana government is surprised that a shallow decision has been taken, completely ignoring the fact that establishment of an entirely greenfield Bulk Drug Park will take significant time," said KTR.

"It should be noted that such biased evaluations are impacting the national interest of becoming self-reliant and as a country we will lose any advantage that may still remain after all these delays," added KTR.

Hyderabad Pharma City, proposed by Telangana, is first-of-its-kind featuring state-of-the-art infrastructure. The project also secured the Environmental Clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). More than 400 companies have expressed interest to set-up units in the park.

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India recognised Hyderabad Pharma City Project as a "Project of National Importance" and has accorded the status of National Investment & Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ). Further, the Hyderabad Pharma City project is also approved by National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT). "While the Hyderabad Pharma City project has the status of National Importance by Government of India, it is appalling that the same has not been considered for support under the scheme," said KTR.

"It is appalling that disregarding facts such as project readiness, availability of conducive ecosystem for API manufacturing, demand from the industry to set up manufacturing units does not come across as a rational evaluation undertaken in the best interest of the Country," said IT Minister KTR.

He added: "It will prove to be counter-productive to the country's efforts towards self-reliance and we will end up with under-developed and under-utilized infrastructure. This final decision will reverse the benefits of work undertaken by the Pharma industry and the resilience demonstrated during pandemic."

Concluding his letter to Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, KTR said, "I assure you that Government of Telangana stands by its commitment towards the development of a world class Bulk Drug Park at Hyderabad Pharma City and promoting competitive domestic manufacturing of pharmaceuticals under the Visionary leadership of KCR. We will continue our efforts with the same rigour, however this evaluation conducted in the right spirit of achieving national interest would have only strengthened the project further and helped the country at large."

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