The Tamil Nadu government has sought permission from the Centre to produce vaccine at a newly-constructed manufacturing unit in the state.
Chief minister MK Stalin has written a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention in handing over the nearly-completed integrated vaccine complex (IVC), owned by HLL Bio-tech (HBL), under the Union health ministry, to the state, so that the facility can be put to use at the earliest.
Pointing out that a modern and high-capacity vaccine manufacturing facility — IVC — in Chengalpet, near Chennai, though almost completed, was lying unutilised for want of further funds, the chief minister said he was keen to make this facility functional in the interest of the state and the country.
“This would substantially enhance the nation’s vaccine production capacity and cater to the vaccine requirements of the country as a whole and Tamil Nadu in particular,” Stalin said.
The Centre had already invested around Rs 700 crore in this facility. A recent attempt to find a private partner to run the IVC has also not succeeded, as there were no bidders for it.
“I wish to propose that the assets of IVC may be handed over to the state government on lease, without any past liabilities, and with full operational freedom. The state government will identify a suitable private partner immediately and will make all efforts to commence vaccine production at the earliest. A suitable financial arrangement for central government to recover a part of its investment can be subsequently worked out, after the commencement of operations,” he said.
HBL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of HLL Lifecare, a government of India enterprise under the ministry of health and family welfare. The Centre had mandated HLL to establish a vaccine manufacturing unit to produce lifesaving and cost effective vaccines primarily to minimise the demand-supply gap and support the Centre in the universal immunisation programme.
The Public Investment Board (PIB) had approved the project in 2012, and a 100-acre land was earmarked and transferred to HLL for this project. IVC had an an estimated cost of Rs 594 crore and was declared as a project of national importance.