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Now, a fabric to ‘block’ bird flu

Mundra SEZ will use spunbound-meltblown-spunbound fabric which will be used for making disposable drapes and gown. Nivedita Khandekar finds out.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2008 23:58 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar
Hindustan Times

Here’s one IIT alumni who like many others couldn’t stay in some foreign country earning dollars. He is coming back to his country to share his knowledge. The knowledge on offer is a product — a high-end medical fabric which can “block bird flu”.

Precisely in recognition of his achievement, polymer scientist Rahul Dharmadhikary has been given IIT Delhi’s Pride Award. Says vice president of IIT Delhi’s Textile Engineering Society Dr R Alagirusamy, “When we give the ‘Pride of the Department Award’ to an alumni, what we look forward to is his contribution to the Indian society. What Rahul is doing is bringing a technology, that he has been instrumental in evolving, back to India.”

Dharmadhikary’s parent company Ahlstrom is in the process of investing in Mundra SEZ with a plant, which will use spunbound-meltblown-spunbound (SMS) fabric that will be of used for making disposable drapes and gown.

Calling it a first of its kind plant in the country, Dr Alagirusamy says, “Presently, all such fabric is imported. This product will definitely benefit Indian market in the health segment.”

Dharmadhikary, who completed his B.Tech in 1989, says, “We are planning to start production by end of 2009 using SMS fabric. This provides much higher protection than the current linen products.” The company also has high-end fabric fabrics, which are complete viral barrier products breathable viral barrier (BVB) and are used for protection against not just bird flu but even HIV and Hepatitis. “These fabrics are made in the USA but are now being brought to India,” he adds.

The company claims drapes and gowns prepared with this virus-proof non-woven fabric will prove a potent weapon to protect doctors and para-medics from pandemics like bird flu or even while handling HIV positive patients.

But then, how will India benefit with this? Pat comes the reply, “We expect 20 per cent of products to be sold in India. A large converting industry will develop because of fabric availability, which will in turn employ many others. Currently, almost all the converting is done in China.”