President A P J Abdul Kalam visited Tirunelveli on Friday. This is his first visit to Tirunelveli after he became the President. After visiting Kanyakumari in the morning he arrived in Koodangulam for a function at the Nuclear Power plant here. He then attended the Convocation ceremony at the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University at Abhishekapatti.
In the evening he came to the Francis Xavier Engineering College in Tirunelveli. A new building in the college was named the Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Block'. He then presided over a forum organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries.
'Transforming India through Tier three towns' was the theme of the forum. The President arrived at 4.15 pm accompanied by Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala and other dignitaries. The Chairman of the SCAD trust that runs this college, S Cletus Babu welcomed the guests. Speaking about the Chief Guest he said, "This is the President that has captured the imagination of the youth in India."
Speaking on the occasion the Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala said, "Cities have become crowded and costly. Tier three towns should now be developed. Tuticorin Port is nearby and this area is connected to the rest of the country through the National Highways. The Tamil Nadu Government is committed to building infrastructure in Tamil Nadu. Manufacturing and Service industries will be encouraged. There are many Windmills in this area. Small-scale industries will be given subsidies.
Rural development should be taken up by the private sector too. Rural youth will stop going to cities if Tier three towns are developed'.
The President started his speech with 'Vanakkam' (Tamil greeting) and then addressed the audience in English. He said that the four Southern districts of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Kanyakumari and Ramanathapuram had an extensive coastline. So they should concentrate on sea based industry.
He said that Iceland had a population of half a million people with a per capita income of $40,000. This was due to deep sea fishing and marketing.
Fishing and Tourism should be at the forefront of development of these districts he stated. The boat and net industries would also develop with the fishing industry. Fish processing and cold storage facilities should be increased.
Rameshwaram was an important religious tourist center. More tourists would start coming in 2007 when the broad gauge line was started.
He said that by 2007, 2000 MW of power would be produced by Nuclear Energy in Koodangulam and by 2020, 8000 MW. This will help Industry. He also spoke about a desalination plant that was coming up in Koodangulam. Fresh water produced in this plant would cost only 5 paise a litre.
He said that the CII should bring in industry to use the power produced in Koodangulam and the Wind Mills in Aralvaimoli. Talking about Non-Governmental Organisations he said that they should be called 'Societal Transformers' as 'Non' is a negative word.
He said that as infrastructure was already stressed in the cities industrial activity should move to two tier cities and three tier towns. Satellite towns should be encouraged.
Road connectivity should be improved. There should be a six-lane highway from Tirunelveli to Madurai. Air connectivity should be increased.
He said that infrastructure at the Courtallam waterfalls should be increased. More hotels should come up and better transport facilities provided.
He mentioned that Dr Vikram Sarabhai had said in 1970, "We will launch satellites from India". And this has happened.
In 1955-60, C Subramanaim and Dr M S Swaminathan had declared, "We must become self sufficient in food production" and we have become self sufficient.
In 1980 the IT industry had started selling software. Today it is a $40 billion industry and it would go onto becoming a $100 billion industry.
He said that tier three towns could be used by the IT people, small and big industries. The President emphasized, "We need creative leaders who are coaches and managers."
He gave the example of Bimapuram near Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh where a BPO industry had started. So people from Hyderabad were going there to work. This should happen in Tirunelveli he said.
Responding to a question on why TCS and Wipro were not coming to Tirunelveli, he said, "You must not wait for them to come here, you must call them here. He recalled that he had once told the Kerala Assembly that as ISRO was there, they must use it.
Answering a question about E-Governance he said it was very important. "File work will stop, industry will be very happy and time would be saved". He said that Rashtrapathi Bhavan was connected to all Raj Bhavans now.
When asked about what was important for the future of India he said "Every branch of Engineering and Management are important. We have to bring up the people living below the poverty line". About Nano-technology he said that it was useful in water purification and health technology.
The President also released two books in Tirunelveli. One was a CII document on how to make the Southern districts prosperous. The other was 'Let my country awake'.
Sanjay Jayavardhnavelu, Chairman CII-Tamil Nadu gave the vote of thanks.