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India becomes 2nd largest producer of PPE kits

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, May 25 - From zero, India is now the second largest Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) manufacturing country in the world. It was made possible within a span of 60 days and now more than a hundred units spread all across India are manufacturing such kits. Now there is no shortage of PPE kits in the country.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that up to the beginning of March this year, India did not manufacture PPE kits and the requirements were met through imports. But now the situation has totally changed and the country is manufacturing at least 3.5 lakh to four lakh PPE kits every day.

Sources pointed out that as the COVID-19 pandemic struck India, there was heavy demand for PPE kits and the Government of India encouraged textile manufacturing units to produce PPE kits. In the first phase, five such units came forward to manufacture PPE kits. Now the number of such units supplying kits to the Government has increased to more than a hundred, while, around 500 other units are certified to manufacture it.

To get certification for manufacturing PPE kits, the units have to make prototypes and get clearance from the authorities. There was only one laboratory in the country to check quality of such kits and now the number of such laboratories has been increased to nine. Apart from initial certification, random checking of the manufactured kits are also being carried out to ensure quality of it. The HLL Healthcare Limited, a Government of India corporation procures the PPE kits from the manufacturers and supply it to the Government. The private hospitals can now also procure PPE kits as the item is available in the country.

Sources revealed that most of the units manufacturing PPE kits are originally textile industries and there were some initial hiccups in encouraging such companies to shift to manufacturing PPE kits.

A team of senior officers was formed in the Textile Ministry to facilitate the process and as strict lockdown was in force at that time, facilitating movement of raw materials was also a major issue. The Textile Ministry coordinated with the other concerned ministries and departments to ensure free movement of raw materials and finished products wherever required and now the country is manufacturing both re-usable and one time use PPE kits to become world�s second largest PPE kit manufacturer within a span of two months.

Though the production of PPE kits increased, the Government is not allowing exports as of now as the country has heavy demand for the item. Once the situation improves, the Government may decide to allow exports, but no such decision has yet been taken.

Sources said that as most of the units manufacturing PPE kits are garment manufacturing companies, they would be able to revert back to their original manufacturing process once the situation improves. Most companies had to import machinery to manufacture PPE kits and the Textile Ministry facilitated the process of such imports amidst the lockdown.

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