Composite industry seeks sops similar to wind turbine industry

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on February 18, 2011

From car-dashboards and hulls of large boats to wind-turbine blades – the estimated Rs 15,000-crore composite industry has a large footprint.

Naturally, it looks to Budget 2011 for incentives similar to the wind turbine industry, to give a boost to exports.

Mr Ketan Buch, General Manager, Kemrock Industries – a producer of turbine blades – told Business Line that one of the major consumers of composites is the wind turbine industry, where the turbine blades are made from fibreglass.

The composite industry should get sops similar to the ones enjoyed by the wind turbine industry.

“They (composites) ultimately serve the larger public good as they help in producing green energy, therefore the usage should be incentivised,” he said.

Composites are a class of materials created out of polymers, blended with fibres derived from glass, carbon and naturally occurring substances. They are distinct from conventional materials such as steel, aluminium, concrete and common plastics. Yet, they have a combination of properties of these materials and tensile strength which is superior, explains an industry representative.

There are 30,000 known uses of composite material including in wind turbines blades, cooking gas cylinders and even centrifuge machines used for making nuclear arsenal.

The Chennai-based Fibre Reinforced Plastics (FRP) Institute, a trade body, is at the forefront in promoting the use of composites. It wants incentives for the industry so that its year-on-year growth, which is currently about at 20 per cent could double in a few years.

The Chairman of FRP Institute, Mr Pradip Thakkar, said, composites should be exempted from excise duty in the forthcoming Budget. Capital investments in manufacturing composites products should be eligible for 100 per cent depreciation. Both import of raw material for making composites and export of finished goods should get incentives, he added.

“Although our industry has a turnover of Rs 15,000 crore, exports are barely Rs 2,000 crore. Exports should be given impetus by reducing duties. On certain focussed products, the industry should get two to three per cent incentives on the FOB value of the finished product,” Mr Thakkar said.

A senior manager of a large Europe-based wind power company said that the present anti-dumping duty on materials like ‘glass rovings', which has many applications for composite industry, should be removed.

“Today there is a 10-30 per cent duty on rovings, it has created monopoly for two Indian companies. By removing anti-dumping duty,a level playing field can be created,” the manager said.

Expressing similar sentiments, the Managing Director of Owens Corning India Ltd, Mr Satish Kulkarni, said that the interests of composite industry should be aligned with the interests of industries such as wind turbines, water transport, railways, automobiles, and aerospace as composites are extensively used in these industries.

“Reduction in sales tax, exemption in excise and other anomalies in the duties should be removed, which will give this industry a further boost,” he said.

Published on February 18, 2011

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