The Centre plans to set up a new production unit for manufacturing concentrated poppy straw (CPS) for extraction of semi-refined morphine. The production unit will be set up near Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh on a public-private partnership basis with an investment of Rs 165 crore.
Accordingly, the finance ministry has invited bids for the new production unit with a minimum capacity to process 10,000 million tonne of poppy husk per annum. It would use the CPS technology to process the poppy husk and further extract semi-refined morphine from it.
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According to sources, the private player would only produce the crude form of alkaloids and the final alkaloids will be processed by Government Opium and Alkaloid Factories (GOAM) for sale to domestic pharma companies. If there is a surplus, a decision can be taken to export it as well, they added.
The CPS method remains relatively new to India and this would be the second such facility being set up in the country, although its size and scale would be much larger.
The government had last year signed a five-year contract for job work with Bajaj Healthcare, which has a factory at Savli in the Vadodara district of Gujarat. The company has the mandate to process 500 MT of unlanced poppy straw to manufacture CPS and extract alkaloids as well as to process 100 MT of opium gum per year to extract alkaloids.
India is one of the few countries internationally permitted to cultivate opium poppy for export and had a few years ago decided that the CPS method would be used. The Opium Policy 2021-22 had allowed licences to cultivators for production of unlanced poppy straw that would be used in manufacturing of alkaloids using the CPS technology.
All other opium-growing countries follow this process and demand for Indian opium has been declining in recent years. It is expected that with the use of CPS technology India will regain its market place in the segment. It is also less labour-intensive and has higher productivity.
According to the bid document, the production facility would be set up 75 km near Neemuch and the concession period would be for a 20-year period including three years of construction.
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The private player would create a production block, adequate storage space for poppy husk and finished products.
It would also create facilities using CPS technology to process husk and further extraction of semi refined morphine, alkaloids or crude form of alkaloids as instructed. They would also ensure that the extracted materials meet the international quality norms, standards and certification as followed in US, the UK, Europe and Australia.