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South Tamil Nadu: An investment hotspot

November 02, 2006 16:44 IST
Taking lessons from the choking effect of some of India's major cities, Tamil Nadu is trying hard to develop and sell not only Tier 2 but Tier 3 cities as well.

After marketing the Tier 2 cities like Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem as IT and ITeS destinations, The Confederation of Indian Industry, Southern Region has shifted its focus to the southern districts of Tamil Nadu as an attractive investment destination.

The CII is organising a 3-day interactive and demonstrative exhibition, conference and a buyer-seller meet, SPEED 2006 (Southern Prosperity through Enhanced Economic Development) from the 1-3 December to showcase the southern districts in Madurai. The event partner, of course will be the government of Tamil Nadu.

The objectives of the event are to quantify and to project the strengths of the southern districts of Tamil Nadu by creating hubs, satellites and corridors with focus on emerging sectors such as manufacturing, ITeS, education, food processing, textiles, health care services and tourism.

CII had in fact started an initiative to promote the southern districts of Tamil Nadu around three years ago but it took three years for them to finally make it a big event.

Now that Tamil Nadu is the third most favoured state as far as FDI is concerned and the second most industrialised state in India after Maharashtra with automobiles, textiles and leather industries doing well, the time has come for the state to shift its attention to smaller cities, the CII points out.

A study, 'Industrialisation of Southern Districts - the Unexplored Opportunity', was conducted on the southern districts with focus on identifying the local strength and the most suitable industrial activity that could be promoted.

It speaks about the creation of the unique selling proposition of the corridor and what needs to be done to achieve the goal. The seven districts that were included in the study are Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Virudhunagar, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, and Tuticorin.

After identifying the strengths of each area, the CII created four hubs for these districts - manufacturing, export cum service, knowledge corridor and tourism corridor. Madurai, Virudhunagar and Tuticorin come under the manufacturing hub while Tuticorin and Tirunelveli are under the export-cum-service hub.

Tirunelveli is also included in the knowledge corridor while Madurai, Ramanathapuram and Kanyakumari come under the tourism corridor as they are heritage sites.

T Kannan, chairman, SPEED 2006 and managing director, Thiagarajar Mills Ltd, said that the southern districts, which contribute to over 19 per cent of the GDP, have already attracted infrastructure investments of over Rs 33,000 crore (Rs 330 billion).

"Since the region is abundant in skilled manpower, it will continue to attract fresh investment in infrastructure and the manufacturing sector, which has the potential to create 80,000 new jobs in the next 3 years," he said.

Shobha Warrier in Chennai