Many people have heard of AIIGMA and a growing number of international companies attend the Annual Seminar that AIIGMA organises - but what does AIIGMA really stand for, and whom does it represent?

AIIGMA was formed in 1975 following a period of high growth in the industrial gases sector and a corresponding rise in the number of participants in the business. This led to an increasing need for communication between gas companies and government authorities and consumers. AIIGMA was created to perform this function.

The Association celebrated its 30th Anniversary in Delhi last year (2006). Along the way it has had 15 presidents, from all areas of the gas business, including gas and equipment manufacturers.

The current membership runs to over 252 Indian gas companies, equipment manufacturers and gas distributors. While AIIGMA does not represent all the companies operating in India, it does have an indirect influence on non-members by steering Government legislation. An important aspect of the Association is its growing list of foreign members, which now totals 12.

AIIGMA's vision is $quot;to identify and strengthen the role of the Indian Gas Industry for the economic development of the country in an open and dynamic environment, where people connected with the industry can and do succeed.$quot;

The Association's main mission is to $quot;act as a catalyst for rapid economic development and prosperity of the Industry and communities dealing with gases through promotion of trade, industry and services and also strengthening the linkages for technological advancement. This is undertaken with particular emphasis on safety and productivity improvement.$quot;

AIIGMA has set out to be the body that represents the industry when dealing with the Indian Government - especially when applied to legislation on all issues from health & safety to tax duties. This is where the organisation differs somewhat from other regional industrial gas associations such as EIGA, CGA, JIGA and AIGA, which remain purely technical & safety organisations.

In terms of heath & safety, the Association has forged strong links to the Ministry of Industry - especially to the department of petroleum and explosives, which legislates on the industrial gases business. AIIGMA also has strong links with the Bureau of Indian Standards.

Where does this leave India in relation to worldwide industrial gas industry efforts to make technical and safety improvements? AIIGMA has been an associate member of CGA but currently only has informal ties with the likes of EIGA and JIGA. Most major regional gas associations are linked with the larger international industrial gas companies and IOMA. We have seen in previous editions of gasworld that there is a process of International Harmonisation of Standards taking place in order to enhance and harmonise both technical and safety standards across the world.

It appears from the recent 29th National Seminar meeting in Kochi (see page 36) that AIIGMA realises that it has to be part of this international movement towards harmonisation.The focus of the meeting was more on technology and safety than the usual commercial issues which have historically occupied its agenda. The smaller gas companies will gain from closer cooperation with major international associations, but will have to accept that the old working mechanism of AIIGMA will have to change in order to participate on the world stage.