The Andhra Pradesh government is establishing the first medical devices manufacturing cluster in the country in the vicinity of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, the foundation stone for which was laid on Friday by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

He said the park - named Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone - would start functioning in a year or so. "We have allocated land - 270 acres - and formed a special purpose vehicle for the project. Right now, 80 per cent of medical devices in the country are imported and this park would not only pave the way for import substitution, but would take up exports as well," he said.

He said cost-effective healthcare was the need of the hour. "We in India produce cheap drugs not only for ourselves, but for the world as well, but medical devices are still costly as they have to be imported. Therefore, the importance of the park cannot be overemphasised."

The Chief Minister said 40 companies had given expression of interest letters, but "we are sure at least 200-300 units will come up here, providing jobs to 20,000 or 25,000 persons, entailing investment of Rs 25,000 crores or so."

Later, interacting with the entrepreneurs, he promised that common infrastructure of a high quality would be provided by the state government and clearances would be given to units within 14 days. He invited them to invest in the park and make use of the facilities.

The park's Chief Executive Officer, Jitendra Kumar Sarma, said work would be expedited and the park would match international standards.