Hand over HLL Biotech facility to Tamil Nadu govt for COVID-19 vaccine production, says plea in SC

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New Delhi, Jun 2 (PTI) A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to hand over premises of HLL Biotech facility near Chennai to Tamil Nadu government on lease for production of COVID-19 vaccines.

The plea submitted that to increase the domestic production of the vaccines the government has to utilise the unused Public sector units particularly, HLL Biotech Limited (HBL) which is a 100 per cent subsidiary of HLL Lifecare Limited, a Government of India (GOI) Enterprise under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “Government of India mandated HLL to establish a state of art vaccine manufacturing unit termed as “Integrated Vaccines Complex” (IVC) at Chengalpattu near Chennai to produce lifesaving and cost-effective vaccines primarily to minimize the demand-supply gap and support GOI in the Universal Immunization program. “However, the facility is now is deserted campus with staff shortage, unpaid wages and financial troubles personifying the Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) in Chengalpattu,” said the plea filed by Tamil Nadu resident S Jimraj Milton.

Referring to a news report, the plea stated that the Central government's state-of-the-art Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) at Chengalpattu has not only been lying idle but has not manufactured a single vaccine in the past nine years. HLL Lifecare Limited, a Government of India enterprise under the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry and that IVC was established in 2012 at an 'estimated' cost of Rs 594 crore and has a sanctioned staff strength of 408, of which nearly 251 posts are vacant, the plea said.

“It is submit that, the complex owned by HLL Biotech, a public sector unit directly under the Health Ministry, has been lying mostly idle since its construction in 2012 and the Centre has been trying to either sell it fully or partly or auction it to the private sector for making vaccines and other biological required for fighting COVID-19. “It had been inviting expressions of interest from private firms since January but withthe response lukewarm. It is respectfully submitted that the government expressed willingness to auction the state-of-the-art facility capable of making more than 1 billion COVID vaccine shots in a year,' the plea said. The petition stated that the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has written a letter to the Central Government and expressed its interest and requested the central government to hand over to the state government on lease, so that the state government will identify a suitable private partner immediately and will make all efforts to commence vaccine production at the earliest.

“Therefore, it is submitted that considering the pandemic situation and high urgency of vaccination, petitioner herein praying for direction to direct the central government to hand over premises HLL to Tamil Nadu and further prayed that direct the central government to identify the institution which have the capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccination and make necessary steps to manufacture COVID-19 vaccination without any further delay,” the plea said. PTI PKS SJK RKS RKS

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