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In India’s fight against COVID-19, a made-in-Punjab hazmat armour

Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Investment Promotions and Industry and Commerce) Vini Mahajan confirmed that PPE sample of JCT Phagwara was sent to central laboratory (SITRA) and that had been approved.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
March 29, 2020 10:11:53 am
coronavirus, coronavirus Punjab, Punjab coronavirus, Punjab COVID-19, COVID-19 Punjab, India news, Indian Express JCT Mills begins production, says ready to deliver one million protective suits in a month. (Representational Image)

Phagwara-based Jagatjit Cotton Textiles (JCT) Mills Limited is all set to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals and frontline workers engaged in testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The PPE suit, also known as hazmat (hazardous materials suit), by JCT Mills has been cleared and certified for production by SITRA (South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) Coimbatore) — an industry sponsored, Union government supported renowned research institute in the textiles sector.

The suit is indigenously designed and all the raw material will also be sourced from India only, JCT Strategic Business Development Director Priya Thapar told The Indian Express.

“We have already started the production of hazmat at JCT Phagwara,” Thapar said, while adding that negotiations and communications were on for the quantum of order with the Centre.

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Incidentally, Phagwara is located in Doaba region of Punjab, which is currently the epicentre of coronavirus cases in the state.

Thapar said that JCT Phagwara with its associates can manufacture “one million protective suits in a month”.

She thanked both Central and Punjab governments for “supporting the JCT in the innovative product, 100 per cent polyester full body suit with built in hood to cover head and a shoe cover”. Thapar added that this can go a long way in helping the nation in its fight against coronavirus. Thapar said the product was designed by her and her team.

Invest Punjab, a wing of Punjab government dealing with industry, has played the role of facilitator in getting JCT the nod. Invest Punjab, it has been learnt, was also in the process of sending PPE suit samples of five more manufacturers based at Ludhiana on Saturday to SITRA for PPEs. In addition, samples of N95 masks were being sent from two Ludhiana-based manufacturers.

Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Investment Promotions and Industry and Commerce) Vini Mahajan confirmed that PPE sample of JCT Phagwara was sent to central laboratory (SITRA) and that had been approved.

“Now the placement of order is under discussion. Central agencies are also looking into it. Order process has been going on. But, they have been cleared and advised to start manufacturing immediately,” Mahajan added.

Pointing out that JCT Phagwara was set up in 1946, Priya Thapar said: “We are ready to do anything for the country.”

“The product which we offer we will follow all safety standards. There are a lot of people who are involved (in the manufacturing of PPE), who are trying to get material passed. We have got certification from SITRA. Anyone and everybody cannot make a hazmat suit and start selling it. That is completely non-ethical. So, we went in for testing from SITRA,” said Thapar.

She said JCT had already been supplying medical wear and medical staff clothing to countries in Europe and United States.

A Union government functionary too confirmed that SITRA had cleared the PPE suit sample submitted by JCT Phagwara. The functionary also said that SITRA had also cleared protective suit sample of textiles and garments honcho Shahi Exports.

“Orders are yet to be finalised. Negotiations like rate per piece have to be worked out,” said the central government official.

He said that about a dozen manufacturers had been already manufacturing PPE body suits with a collective capacity of around 10,000 pieces a day.

“JCT will be a bigger source once the order is cleared,” said the functionary.

According to him, in addition to around dozen manufacturers who were manufacturing protective body suits, two Mumbai-based top manufacturers — Magnum and Venus — were making 80,000 to 10,0000 N95 masks per day collectively.
“Now since China is also opening up, the government may also consider importing such equipment from China,” he added.

About the testing by SITRA, the official added, that since a high degree of protection was required in such protective suits, stringent testing is done to ensure that liquid under pressure does not pass through it and the seam comes with a seal.

“Our protective suit is 100 per cent polyester with certain proprietary trademark coatings and other technology that is applied to it. There is a seam sealing technology in our product so that there is no passing of blood fluids or any other synthetic fluids through the fabric or through the seam. The test done by SITRA is as per prescribed norms and done under a certain water column pressure. Our product conforms to that,” said Thapar.

“As you are aware, worldwide there is big shortage of PPE body suits. People who are manufacturing are charging three times or four times the price for very inferior suits. The one we are manufacturing is a very high quality suit. JCT manufactures this fabric in India and there are only one or two such companies in the country,” she added.

“It is time we find indigenous solutions. We cannot depend on the Chinese because China exported this virus to the world and now they are trying to follow it up with exports of all their medical equipment and their medical wear masks and their gowns and anti-infective suits which they are selling at three to four times price not even at the right quality,” said Thapar.

Other manufacturers

There are PPE body suit samples from other manufacturers which are being sent by Punjab government to SITRA for approval. These include Evershine Industries, Ludhiana, which has offered to manufacture 1,000 garments per day, saying it can start production in five days if the order is placed.

Swami Textiles, Ludhiana has offered to manufacture 7,000 body suits per day and 15,000 doctor gowns per day with production starting on third day if the order is placed.

Shingora Textiles, Ludhiana, has offered to manufacture 1,000 body suits per day, giving a time frame for starting production in two days if order is placed.

Shiva Tex Fab, Ludhiana, has offered to manufacture 1,000 body suit pieces within first week, adding it will be ready for delivery in three to four days’ time after an order is placed.

Kudu Knit, Ludhiana has offered to manufacture 5,000 body suits per day with delivery in four to five days if order is placed.

For N 95 masks, Swami Textiles, Ludhiana, has offered to manufacture 10,000 pieces per day, starting production in three days if order is placed.

Supreme Safety Products, Hoshiarpur has offered to manufacture 4,000 pieces per day, starting production in three days after order is placed.

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