India’s largest syringe maker – Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices (HMD), has shut some of its plants following a directive from the Haryana Pollution Control Board, raising concerns about a possible shortage of syringes and needles in India.
Emission control in Haryana results in vaccination control:
According to a report by Economic Times, the company meets two-thirds of India’s total syringe requirements. It operates four manufacturing units in an 11-acre campus in Faridabad. But, on Friday, three of them, including its main plant, have been closed following orders by the state authority. The Haryana Pollution Control Board has called for the closure of 228 units in Faridabad. This campaign is being carried out as a part of controlling emissions in the NCR region.
As per the report, HMD Managing Director Rajiv Nath told ET, “This afternoon, we have decided to stop production at our complex”. He also said that the company does not have a buffer stock of more than two days. “We can’t feed needles beyond two days of buffer stock from Monday. The daily production of 1.2 crore syringes will not be available from Monday,” said Nath.
HMD has eight automated manufacturing plants located in the areas of Sector 25, Sector 59 and Sector 68, in suburban Faridabad. These plants are spread over a total area of 17 acres. According to its website, the plant’s cumulative production capacity is more than 4.5 billion units of disposable syringes per year.
HMD is a key player when it comes to syringes related to Covid vaccination in India and abroad:
HMD reported last month that it had achieved a production capacity of one billion auto-disable syringes per year for COVID-19vaccination.
The capacity in June 2020 was 500 million pieces of 0.5 ml AD (auto-disable) syringes. In August, it achieved its target of producing 1 billion 0.5 ml AD syringes per year for COVID-19 vaccination. By March 2022, HMD aims to increase the capacity to 1.25 billion AD syringes, taking its total syringe capacity to 3.5 billion pieces per year.
HMD is one of the world’s leading medical syringes-manufacturing firms, and the company is a major supplier of syringes needed for COVID vaccination across the globe. Not only this, it is also supplying four orders received from the Government of India on 0.5 ml AD syringes.
Nath informed that syringes are already in short supplies in India. “The crisis has got worse as we have been asked to shut the units on a voluntary basis. This will have an impact on production of 150 lakh needles daily and 80 lakhs syringes daily.” said Nath.
He informed that deliberations between the pollution board and the company failed, due to which, they had to shut down.
“The pollution board thought the plants were running on diesel generator sets. We assured them we have not been doing it, but they were not convinced,” said Nath. The company was then asked to wind up on a voluntary basis to avoid prosecution and sealing the unit. He said that the power supply from Haryana’s power utility is stable and that most of the company’s gensets are powered by environment-friendly piped natural gas.
He said that only small plants of HMD are connected to diesel gensets. The Haryana government has ordered the closure of all industries, except those running on CNG and other such green fuels, in view of the hazardous pollution levels in the entire NCR.
However, HMD has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare syringes required for COVID-19 vaccination and curative health care as critical medical equipment under the National Disaster Management Act, and to ensure smooth operation of its plants. Not only this, HMD has also written to the Ministry of Health, seeking special attention, as is being given to hospitals and healthcare providers.