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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tuticorin set for economic growth, feel experts

The port town of Tuticorin, located in one of the less-developed regions of Tamil Nadu, is set to see significant economic growth on the back of changing focus of India’s engagement with the world, improving infrastructure and increasing entrepreneurial activity in the region, according to panelists at a recent seminar.

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas secretary MS Srinivasan said the underdevelopment of Tuticorin Port’s hinterland and the union government’s ‘Look West’ policy till recently had kept the port and the region from achieving its full potential. “Now, the centre of gravity has shifted from west to east, and this augurs well for Tuticorin,” he said. He was speaking at the Explore Export 2007 Conference, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in Tuticorin on Saturday.

He said, in the past, the lack of development in the hinterland slowed down growth of the port, which otherwise had a lot of advantages. “Ideally, the hinterland should feed into port and the port in turn would feed into the hinterland,” he added. This in turn was because of lack of infrastructure — especially, good roads, which had a direct impact on development of the areas around.

Containerisation of cargo could also help in faster development, Mr Srinivasan said. India took time to containerise. Even now, while 70% of goods movement is containerised globally, it’s 30-35% in India.

Mr A Subbiah, deputy chairman, Tuticorin Port Trust said, in order to meet the growing needs of users, the port is planning to augment its capacity from the existing 20.55 million tonnes to 40.60 million tonnes through an Inner Harbour Development Programme. This would envisage construction of a coal berth, development of a container terminal, construction of new berths and development activities such as dredging of dock basin to cater to 12.8-metre draught vessels at a cost of Rs 961.75 crores.

The port is planning to create additional capacity of 37.5 million tonnes by end 2012 and would aim for 43.7 million tones by 2017 through the Outer Harbour Development Programme to be implemented at an outlay of Rs 4,350 crore, he said.

Manikam Ramaswami, vice-chairman, CII — Tamil Nadu State Council and CMD, Loyal Textile Mills said infrastructure was key to support growth . This is in the context of the growing demands from global retailers and narrowing lead times for delivery. Power is another constraint. Cost of power in Tamil Nadu is two times than that of other Asian countries.

According to a survey by CII, there were 300-500 trippings a year in the state outside Chennai, he said.
Dr R Palaniyandi, district collector of Tuticorin said there was immense potential for agro processing, wind mill generation, biomass gasifiers and tourism in the Tuticorin district.

Source: Economic Times

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