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Caustic soda industry: problems and its remedies.

In 50 years history of Pakistan, four plants of Caustic Soda had been established on commercial scale, one each in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan and two in the province of Punjab. The plants which were set up in Sindh and Balochistan have closed down and the two established in the Punjab are operative. These two plants (i) Sitara Chemical Industries, Falsalabad, and (ii) Ittehad Chemicals Ltd., both having installed capacity of 130,000 tonnes on an annual basis against country's requirement of 115,000 tonnes are fully capable to meet the on-going as well as future requirements of Caustic Soda. These plants are equipped with the latest state of art technology and best crop of technical expertise is available over here which is in fact fore-runner of other chemical industries of Pakistan.

Another Caustic Soda Plant under the name and style M/s. Ravi Alkalis Limited was commissioned near Sheikhupura, in 1997, which added to the surplus already existing in the country, indicative of the fact that there would not be any shortage of product for another 4-5 years to come.

Caustic Soda is a basic and very essential chemical, even known in the history, which caters for the needs of Soap, Textile, Power Generation, Oil and Vegetable Ghee, Fertilizers, Paper and Board, Pharmaceuticals, Beverages, Petroleum, Defence, Oil & Gas, Metal and host of other important industries of the country. In addition to Caustic Soda, which is the main product in Pakistan, there are other chemicals comprising Chlorine, Hydrochloric Acid and Sodium Hypochlorite, which are also produced simultaneously along with Caustic Soda.

CausticSoda Industry is contributing tremendously to the national economy by paying Rs.500.00 million annually in taxes and saving foreign exchange to the tune of Rs.3.00 billion, as substitution to the imports. This industry is also playing an important role in minimizing unemployment by providing jobs to 1500 people directly and about 10,000 indirectly.

Caustic Soda is an energy intensive industry and electricity is its major raw material component constituting about 60% of the product cost. The domestic energy tariffs are very high comparing the tariffs, prevalent currently in the most advanced nations as well as in neighbouring countries including India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf member states of the region. WAPDA is increasing its tariff every month, more often in a very clandestine manner, which have driven the local industry to the verge of disaster. Self-generation of energy does not look now to be viable solution to the problem because of very high outlay of power plants which is the consequences of recurring rupee devaluation the recent past and 100% increase in the prices of furnace oil during the last one year.

it is very pertinent to say that when the prices of every commodity in the country have increased by 2-3 times in the past. Caustic Soda is perhaps the only product, whose prices have been maintained more or less static for the benefit of common man despite increase in the costs of all its inputs. Local Caustic Soda industry is totally indigenous and its raw materials are available within the country.
Production of Caustic Soda in Pakistan

Fiscal Caustic
Year Soda

1991-92 82,009
1992-93 81,381
1993-94 89,114
1994-95 92,746
1995-96 108,971
1996-97 118,154
1997-98 120,000
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Title Annotation:Pakistan
Publication:Economic Review
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Sep 1, 1998
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