Chemical Sector in Gujarat : Increasing Focus on Green Technology Towards Environment Protection
Dr. Jaimin Vasa
President - Gujarat Chemical Association
Sr. Vice President - Gujarat Chamber of
Commerce and Industry

Gujarat is chemical hub of the country contributing 62% of Petrochemical production, 53% of chemical production and 45% of Pharmaceuticals production. This article highlights the need for the state to implement environment policy and adapt green technologies for its chemical industry which will be a key to make Gujarat as a stronger and greener chemical hub.

Gujarat is one of the leading states of India in the production of chemicals. It is also known as the 'Petro Capital' of India. According to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India, the state accounts for 51% share of the production of major chemicals, including organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, alkali, pesticides and dyes & dyestuffs.

Chemical Center in Gujarat

The major chemical regions in Gujarat are Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bharuch, Vapi , Valsad, Dahej, Hazira and Jamnagar. According to 'Socio-Economic Review Report of Gujarat State, manufacturing of chemicals and chemical products has a major contribution to the Gujarat's economy.

National Statistics of Chemical Sector
  • India accounts for approximately 15% of the world production of dyestuff and dye intermediates.
  • Total production of the major chemicals including petrochemicals was 23.9 Million tons in 2015-16.
  • Polymer demand is expected to grow by 8-10% with healthy growth in industries such as clothing, automobiles etc.
  • Chemicals is one of the most diversified in the world, covering more than 70,000 commercial products.
Chemical is the second largest industrial group having around 14% share after refined petroleum products (37% share). Gujarat contributes 31% of chemical and petrochemicals, 30% of basic chemicals, 10% of elastomers and polymers, 53% of dyes and intermediates and 41% of agrochemicals of the total production value of these segments in India.

Growth Drivers of Chemical Sectors in Gujarat
  • A large population, huge domestic market dependence on agriculture and strong exports are the key growth drivers for the industry.
  • A global shift towards Asia as the World’s chemicals manufacturing hub.
  • India's per capita consumption of chemicals in India is lower as compared to western countries, which provides immense scope and opportunities for new investments.
  • Rise in GDP and purchasing power generates huge growth potential for the domestic market.
  • A focus on new segments such as specialty and knowledge chemicals.
  • Globally cost competitive manufacturing.
  • Availability of Skilled professionals with requisite technical knowledge including World-class engineering and strong R & D facilities.
  • The Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Regions (PCPIR) is providing state-of-the-art infrastructure for Chemical & Petrochemicals Sector in Gujarat.
Role of SME/MSMEs

The Chemical industry in Gujarat comprises of small, medium and large scale industrial units. MSMEs constituting around 15% of total major group wise MSME units in chemical and chemical products industry. The Gujarat government policy provided enough support for development of micro, small and medium enterprises in the state. Some of the key policy features include the interest subsidy on loans for modernisation programmes, interest subsidy on eligible parameters, like sector, size, etc., venture capital and patent monetization assistance, technology acquisition fund, support for vendor development, support for auxiliary industries for value-addition, cluster development in PPP mode, rehabilitation of sick units, etc.

Environmental Concerns

During the Brain Storming Meeting at GSFC Science Foundation, we have prepared an Environment Vision Document 2027 for State of Gujarat as a Environmental Policies/Policy Ramifications.

Introducing the subject of environment both at primary & secondary levels with focus on teaching with the real examples/practical aspects rather than theoretical knowledge will help students in sensing the real issues and its magnitude and how best they can be minimised.

Figure 1: Chemical Center in Gujarat

Other important issues are that of contribution of state in ozone layer depletion, unabated mining of resources, impact of climate change etc. which need to be looked into with real time perspective.

Issues of environment, it analysis, impact study and relevant solutions of Gujarat cannot be viewed and assessed in isolation unless a big picture study is undertaken for comparative analysis i.e. study of status of environment at global and national levels.
  • Green belt establishment: Any urban constructions should made it mandatory to have a green belt, in the form bushes, vegetable garden or trees. The people's representatives, officials and office bearers of the residential associations can be entrusted as ambassadors of this act.
  • Lung area calculation to be established to understand the co-efficient or coequivalence of oxygen availability and carbon dioxide sequestered with respect to green cover. Identification of proper soft wood plant ideal for forestry in terms of water usage and growth rate also required .
  • Energy policies requires a revision to address fuel efficiency, effective use of renewable energy. New biofuel sources can be explored and the established ones can be studied further for improvisation.
  • Domestic waste management demands as a revisit to establish self sufficient system in factories and individual households. Convenient incinerators of various capacities with different fuel options can be designed and can be distributed in a subsidised manner to manage domestic waste.
  • A central agency (similar to GCMS) to look after the environmental health of the state to be constituted.
  • Mining activities happening in Gujarat needs to be monitored properly.
  • Micro and macro climate change in the state to be addressed and assessed in terms of local industrialization, city expansion and other anthropogenic activities.
Also Environment related start-ups in Chemical Sector should be encouraged to design and develop technology/product for the benefit of environment.

Understanding Green Technology and Clean Manufacturing

If the Chemical Industries adapt the Green technology there will be minimum environmental damage, low emission of Green House Gas. Also the encourage conservative usage of energy and natural resources, promotion of the usage of renewable sources of energy. Clean manufacturing includes conservative usage of raw materials and energy, elimination of toxic inputs and reduction of toxic outputs.

Manufacturing Standards Adopted by EU, USA and Other Developed Economies

Manufacturing standards of developed economies are aimed to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. REACH Regulation places greater responsibility on industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances.

Changing Focus on Green Technology and Concerns towards Environment

Globally, the awareness towards concept of environmental safety and management is rising with a rapid pace. Governments are promoting green technologies and eco-friendly solution by way of incentives.

Paints and coatings industry is raw materials sensitive largely depending on the price of the crude. In this scenario, water based coatings are creating a large market share with growing awareness.

Dyes and dyestuff industry is under the strong radar of the environmental agencies due to the non-biodegradable nature of dyes along with the presence of toxic trace metals/acid/alkali/ carcinogenic aromatic amines traceable in the effluents. Green initiatives such as development of fibre reactive dyes, metal free dyes, low sulphide dyes can be thought of in the light of long term savings.

Green nanotechnology refers to the use of nanotechnology to enhance the environmental-sustainability of processes currently producing negative externalities. It also means using nanotechnology to make current manufacturing processes for non-nano materials and products more environments friendly. For example, nanoscale membranes can help separate desired chemical reaction products from waste materials.

Another goal of Green Nanotechnology involves developing products that benefit the environment either directly or indirectly. Nano materials or products can directly clean hazardous waste sites, desalinate water, treat pollutants, or sense and monitor environmental pollutants. Indirectly, lightweight nano composites for automobiles and other means of transportation could save fuel and reduce materials used for production.

Investments in New Technologies, Processes and Adapting the Global Changes

New technologies and processes are prerequisites for a sustainable development of fast growing Indian chemical industry. China, Vietnam, Singapore and other South Asian countries have been capturing the attention of the Western world.

Even efficient boilers can play a crucial role to enable the optimum usage of energy in chemical manufacturing units as the condensing boilers extract more of heat and consume less gas for same amount of heating requirements. However, cost, fuel availability, heat recovery system needs to be checked .

Water Management

Immediate need to address issues in relation to water management, waste water treatment and proper disposal, recycling-reuse of water. Falling reserves of water and shortage of potable water has posed a threat over the future of chemicals industry. The existing effluent treatment plants require major changes and adoption of new techniques that can promote reuse of water and thus save the water for future generations. Disposal of waste water is another grey area that needs to be addressed immediately.

Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) can be considered as a solution for effective water recycling though coupled with high investment and operational costs. Potential savings can be compared vis-à-vis cost of fresh water and savings on sludge disposal. Water availability is getting scarce, industrial water charges are climbing high and regulations are becoming more stringent. In the light of these, drivers for recycling with process and system design equipments, such as sequencing batch reactors, membrane bioreactors, reverse osmosis, ultra filtration and evaporators are becoming popular along with chemical treatment.

The Central Effluent Treatment Plants in Gujarat are effectively dealing with waste water problem. But some of them were non-complaint as they had shortfalls of designing, operations and maintenance parts as per Central Pollution Control Board’s note. To promotes as well as to adopt the sophisticated and latest technology for the Treatment of Effluent, Government should offer the finance to the chemical industries with subsidised rate.