Major Initiatives as Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers
As Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri Suresh P. Prabhu has undertaken a number of initiatives notable of which are
A Cleaner Environment
One of the first initiatives, he took soon after his assuming charge of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, was in regard to environment protection and systematic improvements in the working of fertiliser companies. The fertiliser sector companies were directed to take action to achieve ISO – 14000 standards which provide for most comprehensive and stringent certification process devoted to environment protection and improvement of overall working of the company. Consequently, all the fertiliser companies have responded and have worked out a definite program for achieving certification under ISO – 14000. The Kalol unit of IFFCO is expected to achieve the certification under ISO – 14000 by October 2000. Three units of IFFCO located at Phulpur, Aonla and Kandla are also expected to achieve ISO – 14000 levels soon. Three other units of National Fertilisers Ltd, at Panipat, Nangal and Bhatinda are also in the process of achieving certification under ISO-14000. Similarly, Rastriya Chemicals & Fertiliser Ltd., Pradeep Phosphates Ltd., Madras Fertiliser Limited, Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. have also worked out their milestones for getting the certification under ISO – 14000. In the Chemicals & Petrochemicals side Cochin Unit of HOCL, Indo Gulf & Duncans have achieved the ISO – 14000 standards.
On the advice of the Minister, commitment to clean environment, insistance on quality and achievement of certification under ISO – 14000 have been included for the first time as MOU targets in case of MOU signing companies.
Reaching out to the needy
Following the devastating super cyclone, which hit Orissa on 28th October 1999, Minister appealed to drug manufacturers to donate medicines to the victims. The Indian Drugs Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) rose to the occasion and Rs 50 lakh were given in the form of medicines and cheques; the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) made collective commitment to give over Rs 1.15 crores in the form of medicines to the cyclone victims following the Minister’s appeal; the PSUs and Multistate Co-operative of IFFCO & KRIBHCO of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers contributed substantially both in cash and kind to help the cyclone victims. Following public Sector Undertakings/cooperatives under the administrative control of Department of Fertiliser adopted blocks for undertaking cyclone relief operations:
- IFFCO – Salepur, Sadar and Barang Blocks in Cuttak District
- KRIBHCO – Bhubaneswar Sadar in Khurdah & Hatadin in Keonjhar District
- Rastriya Chemicals & Fertilizer – Astrarang Block in Puri District
- Pradeep Phosphates Ltd, – Pradeep Local
- Fertiliser Corporation of India – Block Sadar in Dhenkanal District
FACT – Mahanga Block in Cuttack District.
Together, the fertiliser PSUs/Co-operatives have spent more than Rs.4.35 crores during and after the period of calamity on various items such as reconstruction of School buildings, food, clothes, fertilisers, poly bags, saplings, medicines, etc. IFFCO alone has spent an amount of Rs.3.5 crores (including one crores for Prime Minister’s Relief Fund) for rehabilitation of the cyclone-affected people. KRIBHCO has spent Rs.60 lacs on cloths, and RCF Rs.6.5 Lacs. FACT and PPL donated Rs.10 lacs and 1 Lacs respectively to Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Nearly 12000 blankets were distributed. KRIBHCO has undertaken construction of Houses for 1000 families belonging to weaker section. FCI has deputed Medical Officers with some administrative staff to attend to the health care activities in the area assigned to them. Thousands of people were provided food, free medicines and seeds for Rabi cropping by these companies in the cyclone affected areas.
Resolving Industry’s problems
The minister made a detailed review with the Associations of Chemical Industry, Pharma Industry, Petrochemical Industry, Fertiliser industry, Pesticides Industry, Dye staff industry etc. in order to understand and help in resolving their problems. Efforts have been made to resolve the problems either through the Ministry itself or by taking up these issues with the concerned Ministries.
Patent (Amendment) Bill
The patent (Amendment) Bill, which was prepared in construction with the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, was introduced in the Parliament in December 1999. Through these amendments, the Act is being made TRIPTS compatible and will have a major impact on the pharma sector.
Indo – Philippine Co-operation
Mr. Prabhu convened an Indo_Philliphines joint meeting at New Delhi for the first time. An official delegation accompanied by a large business delegation from Philippines visited India during this period, which is expected to give a boost to the Indian export to Philippines.
In order to encourage FDI in the chemical, Petrochemical and Pharma sectors, an international conference of investors is being planned by the Deprtment of Chemicals and Petrochemicals.
New appraisal format
A new system for more comprehensive evaluation of the performance of MDs/CMDs of the companies under the Ministry has been suggested. It was felt that the system in existence was not able to evaluate properly the personal performance of the MDs/CMDs. The suggested system shall take into account both the financial performance of the company and the efforts made by the MDs/CMDs to improve the performance of the companies. The suggested system of evaluation has been sent to the Deptt. of Public Enterprises for further action. The MOUs with Public Sector Enterprises have also been suitably revised to ensure that there is greater accountability.
In order to give proper incentives for outstanding performance, Minister has given direction for institution of awards for the best performing PSUs and the best performing officer in the PSUs.
In order to make transparent the functioning of the Ministry, the Minister gave directions for preparing separate web site with all related information for the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals and Department of Fertilizers. Both the departments. prepared their web sites and there were launched on 2nd February 2000. Similar directions have been given to PSUs to launch their own web sites on the Internet and make their functioning completely transparent. Directions have been given to the PSUs to include all their tender procedures on the Internet to bring out complete transparency.