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The department of pharmaceuticals has invited an Expression of Interest (EoI) from companies to set up clusters largely for producing bulk drugs.
This is the fourth such phase; the earlier ones weren't a hit with the pharma industry. The cluster scheme is a public-private partnership (PPP) project, where the government will fund up to 70 per cent of the project cost, subject to a ceiling of Rs 20 crore, to set up a cluster. The project aims to set up common facilities for companies and upgrade any existing one.
The EoI invitation says the prime motive for the latest scheme is to "boost their competitiveness and capability in the global market". According to the scheme, 10 or more pharma companies have to come together to form one cluster.
In the ongoing five-year plan (2012-17), an amount of Rs 125 crore was allocated for this cluster development scheme. The effort is part of the aim to bring down India's dependence on China for bulk drugs. The country imports 65 per cent of this requirement from there, Rs 13,853 crore in 2015-16.
There is a similar programme by the Karnataka government, with the aim of boosting pharma manufacturing there. Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) will be established in a PPP model in these clusters or industrial parks. Special Economic Zones and other clusters of pharma industries are to be supported with a one-time grant to augment investments on such CETPs.
The government of Odisha has also shown interest in adopting the cluster approach. The state is in the process of formulating a policy for the pharma sector.