Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Time for TN Govt to focus more on Tuticorin Belt as industrial hub

Port Wings is bringing out series of articles on the major issues pertaining to the EXIM sector every week till the Tamil Nadu Government’s Global Investors Meet (GIM). This week, we analyse about the importance of Tuticorin region in attracting investments.


Port Wings News Network:

Tuticorin (also known as Thoothukudi) is situated at almost the southern tip of India and its major port located so close to East-West International Maritime Route.
It is about 650 kilometers from Chennai and the nearest major urban centre is Madurai which is about 135 kilometers from the city. While the district’s road connectivity is relatively fair, its railway and air connectivity is very limited as far as the movement of freight is concerned.
After Chennai region, Tuticorin is another largest industrialized region in the state of Tamil Nadu with huge potential for further development with all modes of transport – ocean, road and air.
If the State Government projects the region before the investors during the proposed Global Investors Meet (GIM) listing out all potentials, there is no doubt that the region would attract more investment at the meet.
For Tuticorin region to develop as expected by different stakeholders, considerable investments would need to be made in infrastructure.
According to CII’s Vision 2025 Document for Tuticorin, some of the investments would relate directly to the improvement of infrastructure of the district and are essential to attract private sector investments into the town. There is also a need for substantial other infrastructure investments, which will be of immense benefit to the district and are indeed a prerequisite for the envisioned growth to be realized, are actually investments that would benefit the larger economy of the State and the country as a whole.


Even though the Tamil Nadu Government has a policy and focus in place to develop Tuticorin as a major industrial and commercial centre in Tamil Nadu for some time, to promote the regions before the potential investors, the state government has to walk an extra mile.
According to the Vision Document, the government should ensure at least two big ticket investments, possibly an automobile plant and a ship building unit, which is a quite possible industry given the potential for multi-modal connectivity in the region.
Besides, setting up a dedicated authority to oversee the planned and integrated development of the industrial and commercial areas in the districts would send a right signal before the investors converging during the Global Investor Meet.


Tuticorin Port’s location at the southern tip of India near the East-West trade route makes it ideally suited to become a major container hub port for Indian container cargo that is presently being transshipped through Port of Colombo in Sri Lanka.
The fast growing Indian economy and increased containerization of Indian cargo would give tremendous boost to the Port’s tonnages handled if it were to become a hub port.
In the Budget presented on July last year, the government allocated Rs 11,635 crore for the expansion of the V O Chidambaranar (VOC) Port in Tuticorin. Further, it was a confirmation that the Union government is of the view that the existing port has the huge potential of handling bigger vessels in the future and dominate the region as a major hub port on the International Maritime Route.
According to EXIM fraternity, the outer harbour project is a revolutionary concept and if goes as per the plan, it would greatly help the Indian exporters as well as the Government of India with enhancement of facilities.
The development of the outer harbour at VOC Port will be completed in four phases over 24 years (2019-2043) and will cost an estimated Rs 23,432 crore.

VOC Port, one of the 12 major ports in India and the second biggest in the state after Chennai, was established in 1974. It started by importing coal for the Tuticorin thermal power station, but over the years has diversified to handling export and import of timber, granite, sugar, machinery, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas, liquid ammonia, chemicals and fertilisers.
Now, business prospects growing manifold in the port's hinterland of south Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.

While the road connectivity in the region is relatively better, there is a strong need for upgrading rail and air connectivity. The State Government has already initiated talks on extending the Kolkata-Visakhapatnam Corridor to Chennai and Tuticorin.
While the doubling of rail tracks for a dedicated freight movement from Madurai to Tuticorin is progressing at a snail’s pace, the exim fraternity also urging the authorities concerned to improve air connectivity to the district.

Even though the VOC Port is managed by the Union Government, industries located in and around the port area are in the control of state government and any infrastructure improvement to these areas would positively project the region as “invest-potential area” before the likely investors.

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