N95 Mask export should be allowed to encourage mask manufacturer

During the lockdown phase, Prime Minister Modi while addressing the nation, says India Turned Virus Crisis Into Opportunity, cites Example of PPE Kit & N95  mask production. After two and half months, today majority of the mask manufacturers are complaining about over supply, excess capacity, lack of support from state/central govt in terms of purchase and supply to hospitals and health centers across the country. The export of N95 is still not allowed whereas export of cotton based masks is allowed which has got no demand in the international market.

Such a situation has created huge dissatisfaction and uproar among mask and PPE manufacturers who have invested in plants, machinery and material during the lockdown phase facing all challenges. They all are complaining about the Govt. policies and lack of consistency in policies.

According to estimate, there are more than 500 N 95 mask manufacturers in India and 99 % of them have started production of Masks during the lockdown period with all difficulties in procurement of material, manpower shortages and several other challenges. They never tagged themselves as ‘Corona warriors’ however, these companies and their employees have put their life at risk by ensuring constant and sufficient supply of N95 masks and PPE kits across the country.

N95 masks and PPE production must have attracted capital investment of 1000 crore during this pandemic and lockdown phase, most of its have imported their machineries from outside as there were very few domestic N95 mask machine manufacturers in India. Currently, mask manufacturers are facing an oversupply situation as demand which was expected from the state and central government has not materialised and several states and central govt. mask tenders were either postponed or not yet announced. Therefore, investment made by these companies and entrepreneurs is at risk now.

Prices of N95 mask is consistently dropped since last one and half months and will continue unless the export ban on N95 mask is lifted, we are in a very awkward situation wherein we have to forgo international inquiries for export of N95 mask and Chinese manufacturers of N95 mask are taking away all the business globally. Cotton mask which is allowed for export are of no use as cotton mask is not effective as compared to N95 in terms of their particle filtration efficiency (PFE) as well as Bacteria filtration efficiency (BFE) test, says one of the mask manufacturer based in Ahmedabad who has been running his factory consistently since the day of announcement of lockdown in March.

One one hand, Modi Govt. is talking about Atmanirbhar Bharat and not allowing its own industries to take advantage of opportunities in the Global market and not supporting enough through its own purchase of N95 masks for their consumption in Govt. hospitals and healthcare institutions.

In this regard, the interview of Mr. Pinkal Shekhaliya, CMD, appeared in Divya Bhaskar Newspaper on 1st August, 2020.