“As multinational companies (MNCs) look to diversify their supply chains and invest in India, they will be looking for companies that have policies and plans in place to meet global environment, social, and governance (ESG) standards. This is the right time for companies to incorporate clean energy technologies and to make process improvements that lead to efficiencies and reduced emissions in support of global climate goals. The U.S. Consulate in Mumbai is ready to support you, and especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), with training, technical assistance, and other resources, such as academic collaboration and skilling,” said Mr. Rob Anderson, Public Engagement Unit Chief at the U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai, at an interactive session on ‘Adoption of Clean Technologies in the Foundry and Forging Sectors’ in Shiroli, Kolhapur. The session was jointly organized by MVIRDC World Trade Center Mumbai and Shiroli Manufacturers Association, Kolhapur (SMAK).

Mr. Anderson informed that the U.S. Consulate is working with chambers and other industry partners such as MVIRDC World Trade Center Mumbai to support MSMEs in “greening” their operations, and considering an industry-government forum that would promote exchange of ideas on green technology and finance, including in the forging and foundry sectors. There is tremendous scope to exchange best practices in waste reduction, water recycling, energy efficiency, reducing carbon emission and process optimization, Mr. Anderson mentioned.

He pointed out that India sent about 200,000 students to the United States last year, and the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai is committed to support movement of Indian students to the United States to learn and experiment with cutting-edge clean technologies. There is also scope to promote academic collaboration whereby the U.S. institutions can help Indian institutes develop course curriculum on clean energy, he added.

Speaking on this occasion, Dr. Kadambari Balkawade (I.A.S), Commissioner, Kolhapur Municipal Corporation emphasized that waste management is the top priority of her administration and that the Corporation is willing to introduce policy to support MSMEs in recycling water and industrial waste.

In his remarks, Mr. S D Shelke, General Manager, District Industrial Centre (DIC), Kolhapur informed that the number of industrial units in the district has grown from 6,000 to 35,000 in the last 15 years and the total export of the district stands at Rs. 900 crore. The district has MSME clusters across leather, silver, engineering, jaggery and other agro-based products.

In his introductory remarks, Mr. Anil Velde, DGM - Trade Promotion, and Marketing, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai outlined the role of WTC Mumbai in connecting MSMEs to global markets through its unparalleled worldwide network of 320 WTCs across more than 90 countries.

He further said, “WTC Mumbai is willing to support MSME units in Kolhapur in adoption of clean technologies by facilitating networking events and exchange of trade delegations with foreign countries.”

The event was also addressed by senior officials from Shiroli Manufacturers Association, Kolhapur (SMAK).

Mr Virendra Patil, Member, SMAK gave a presentation on the challenges faced by Kolhapur foundry cluster and the initiatives taken by the cluster to protect environment.

He said, “Kolhapur is home to one of the largest foundry clusters in India as there are nearly 3,000 foundry and other engineering units producing more than 1 lakh tonne casting and forging components every month. Many of these foundry units were established as early as 1975 and today they cater to both domestic as well as US and European markets. These units supply critical components to automobile manufacturers, power equipment, construction machinery and other sectors.”

Mr. Patil pointed out, “Foundry is an energy intensive sector as more than 15% of the total cost is spent on power. In order to reduce cost of power, some foundry units have installed solar power. Also, the foundry cluster has set up India’s first sand reclamation plant, which facilitates recycling of 80% of the sand used in foundry and supplying the remaining sand for road construction and other purposes. Recycling of sand prevents indiscriminate dumping of used sand, which are chemically hazardous.”

Speaking about the environmental challenges faced by the foundry cluster, Mr Patil remarked, “Foundries generate solid and gaseous waste, besides waste produced from single use plastics. Foundries also have to safely dispose metallic and non-metallic slag generated while melting scrap. Fumes emitted at different stages of the foundry process are hazardous to health. The minute particulate matter originating from sand dust causes air pollution. So, we need clean technologies for implementing the circular economy principle of RRR (reduce, reuse and recycle) and make our operations environment friendly. We seek the support of WTC Mumbai in connecting us with the right partners to access clean technologies from advanced countries.”