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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Upgrading infrastructure essential to woo investments to southern districts

Expansion of Tuticorin port, upgrading Madurai airport and enhancing power generation are the immediate needs of southern districts to invite investment. Formation of special economic zones and four and six-laning of highways are essential to upgrade infrastructure.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) looks at industrialisation as a necessity to retain young talent, to prevent migration and put a stop to violence and caste clashes. Its Tamil Nadu chairman Sanjay Jayavarthanavelu is for the creation of new industry and region-specific clusters— a printing cluster around Sivakasi and a textile processing cluster around Madurai. The confederation has already taken up with the State Government the formation of a multi-special economic zone in the Madurai-Virudhunagar-Tuticorin corridor for textiles, chemicals, auto components, marine and engineering.

Member of State Planning Commission, T. Kannan, is confident that Tuticorin could emerge as an international logistics hub and Sivakasi as the printing capital of the world with the right infrastructure.

Modernisation and expansion of the Madurai airport is in progress. But the travelling public, trade and industry look to the Government to formulate a comprehensive scheme, taking into account the needs arising in the next 15 years. Ligi George, chairman of CII, Madurai region, says that the existing runway should be expanded to a distance of 9,000 feet and another one should be added to accommodate international flights. Introduction of international flights should gain priority over upgrading Madurai into an international airport.

The runway in the Tuticorin airport, which was revived recently with the introduction of a flight to Chennai, should be extended to 9,000 feet from 4,500 feet.

The expansion of the Tuticorin inner harbour at an outlay of Rs. 835 crore has been cleared by the Ministry of Environment. But the industry wants the Government to take up the development of outer harbour, which is expected to cost Rs. 3,610 crore. The draught of the harbour should be increased to 14.5 metres in order to accommodate bigger vessels after the commissioning of Sethusamudram ship channel.

Though many four-laning projects have been taken up in the region, there is need for six-laning of highways, especially the Madurai-Tuticorin and Madurai-Kanyakumari sections. Madurai has an inland container terminal but exporters and importers prefer the highway. Doubling of Tuticorin-Madurai-Chennai section will facilitate free movement of cargo, besides decongesting traffic on highways.

The confederation has suggested a survey of the energy demand for the next decade for south Tamil Nadu, taking into account the upcoming power generation plants at Koodankulam and Tuticorin.

The Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants the Government to encourage power generation from renewable sources.

Production of bio-diesel should be encouraged and windmill clusters formed in Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts.

Source : The Hindu

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