DIVERSIFIED USES OF RUBBER AND RUBBER WOOD URGED
Date : 26 Jul 2001
Location : New Delhi
Shri Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for External Affairs, has urged the Indian rubber industry to go for diversified uses of natural rubber and rubber wood in a big way which will not only augment foreign exchange earning from this most versatile industrial raw material but will also create more jobs in the country. Inaugurating a one-day Seminar on "Diversified Uses of Rubber and Rubber Wood" organised by the Rubber Board here today, Shri Abdullah pointed out that natural rubber, which accounted for 80% of the total customer requirement of the country and was used in the manufacture of as many as 35,000 products, could be effectively used in the newer areas such as seismic bearings for earthquake resistant buildings, modified concrete structures and rubberisation of roads. "The recent earthquake in Gujarat has opened our eyes to the need for construction of buildings in a more scientific manner", Shri Abdullah said adding that such diversified uses of natural rubber would contribute to the overall improvement of the country's infrastructure and also increase consumption of natural rubber in the country. The Rubber Board under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Structural Engineering Research Institute have been working jointly for evolving appropriate technologies for the development of seismic bearings and similarly the Rubber Board has been working in close collaboration with the Central Road Research Institute, the Indian Road congress and the Ministry of Surface Transport for evolving and popularising technology for the use of natural rubber modified bitumen for rubberisation of roads.
Shri L.V. Saptharishi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of commerce & Industry, underlined the urgent need to improve the competitive edge of the Indian rubber industry which was now exposed to the global market consequent upon the process of economic reforms initiated since the early 1990s. This meant that opportunities available for rubber product manufactures in the country should be properly understood and exploited given the country's large industrial base which could support manufacture of technology intensive rubber products, Shri Saptharishi said, while stressing the vital role that research & development could play in improving the competitiveness of Indian products. It should no longer be seen as a specialised material for making only tyres, but rather for a range of diversified uses including construction and structural engineering etc., he said. Citing studies conducted abroad which had established that one effective way of protecting buildings from earthquakes is to use rubber based seismic bearings, Shri Saptharishi observed that the existing Indian Standards on the code of practice for construction of earthquake resistant buildings does not include the use of rubber bearings for the purpose and urged a suitable amendment of the Standard to allow the use of natural rubber in view of its outstanding engineering properties. Shri S.M. Desalphine, Chairman, Rubber Board, along with leading representatives of rubber industry and plantations were present.
Shri Saptharishi also urged the industry to formulate an action plan to tap the use of rubber wood for a wide range of applications such as furniture, panelling, flooring, household articles. There is a good scope for export of rubber wood products, he said, while assuring the government's fullest support to the industry in exploiting this potential. Referring to the current rubber scenario characterised by a surplus situation leading to decline in prices of natural rubber, Shri Saptharishi highlighted the urgency of finding ways of enhancing rubber consumption in the country and said that one way of doing so would be to promote non-conventional uses of rubber in a big way.