The Indian industry is positive about ‘shining Kerala’ and its image as an investment destination has undergone a sea change, according to a top industrialist.
“We are positive on the industry’s chemistry with the state government and we’ll work closely to attract more investments,” said G V Sanjay Reddy, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)-southern region, who is also managing director of Mumbai international airport and Bangalore international airport.
The state received investments worth Rs 320bn since June 2011 with major share going into the energy sector (Rs 206.2bn) followed by infrastructure Rs 87.65bn and Rs 26.25bn in other sectors.
“Kerala is today one of the preferred investment destinations. Everyone loves to come here. Earlier they used to come only for leisure. This perception has changed. This is the appropriate time to cash in on it,” Reddy insisted.
“Today, the state is a major contender when investors think of making new investment decisions. Overall, the state seems to be quite stable”.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which is partnering with the Kerala government in the upcoming Emerging Kerala 2012 summit in September, has proposed setting up a Centre of Excellence on Innovation, Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship here.
It would organise 14 sectoral conferences during the ‘Global Connect Initiative’ to be held in Kochi to deliberate on various policy issues that are relevant to propel the growth of the economy nationally as well as in Kerala.
The CII would bring in captains of industry from across the globe to participate in the sectoral conferences.
Reddy said the event would help the state attract more investments in emerging sectors like aerospace, green energy, financial services, food processing, ports, logistics and ship building, information technology and biotechnology.
The CII will focus on its theme `South India 2020– Accelerate Inclusive Growth & Sustainable Development’. Some of the other initiatives in Kerala include development of the high-speed rail corridor, solid waste management for municipal corporations, entrepreneurship development, power, development of Tier II & III cities and industrial corridors.
“South India now contributes to over 22% of India’s GDP and 28% of its employment and its advantages in economic and social development indices give it the potential to sustain accelerated growth over the next decade and create global scale in select sectors,” Reddy said addressing a news conference here yesterday.
Australia has welcomed the Emerging Kerala Global Connect initiative as an opportunity to strengthen engagement with the State in a number of sectors.
According to Mr Peter Varghese, High Commissioner to India, these would include education, agriculture, energy and waste management.
A high-level diplomatic delegation led by Mr Varghese met the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, and Ministers to discuss the possibility of new partnerships.
The Australian delegation included Consul-General for South India, Mr David Holly.
Mr Varghese said that Australia’s private sector has expertise and capabilities in the ten focus sectors identified for showcasing at Emerging Kerala 2012.
Agri-businesses and agro-based services are among the key areas identified by Australia, which wants to partner Kerala in deep-sea fishing projects.
The country offers various related services, including the training of fishermen and promotion of sustainable and environment friendly practices to boost agriculture.
Mr Varghese has promised to make private industries in his country aware of the ‘global connect’ opportunity. The Australian government will be happy to bring trade delegations and make presentations at the event, he said.
The Industries Minister, Mr P. K. Kunhalikutty, said that Australian response to the state government’s efforts has been very positive.
“Our meeting clearly showed the great synergy of ideas we have. There is so much Kerala can offer that Australia wants, and vice versa.”
Among those who attended the meeting included senior government officials, Mr Somasundaram, additional chief secretary, Industries, and Mr Alkesh Sharma, secretary (Industries-IP).
Australia has offered to collaborate in improving technical education in schools and ITIs through projects similar to those in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The projects propose capacity building of educational institutions and improved skills training, with the goal of making the graduating students more employable.
Among the mega projects that have attracted Australia’s attention are the proposed Oceanarium and LNG terminal at Kochi.
Australia, which has set up a trade office in Kochi in 2010, has also offered its expertise in the field of food processing, medical equipment and healthcare, water management and desalination, sports management, infrastructure and renewable energy.
The assembly on Wednesday threw light on two major dream projects – the state’s own airlines and the gas pipeline project being implemented by Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL).
While chief minister Oommen Chandy said that the first-phase of GAIL gas pipeline project would be commissioned by December, NORKA minister K.C. Joseph said the proposal for a state-owned airways would be mooted at the upcoming Emerging Kerala meet seeking prospective investors.
Meanwhile, Joseph informed the house that considering the demand from NRKs, the state government would be reviving the plans for an own airline. The previous UDF government had mooted the proposal, but it did not materialise.
The state’s own airlines would help address issues like airlines charging exorbitant fares, he said in reply to a submission.
Billed as the biggest and most expensive infrastructure projects conceived by Kerala, a high speed rail corridor for India's first bullet train is one of the mega projects the state plans to implement.
On completion, it will enable one travel from Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram to the state's northern most point Kasaragod in 142 minutes, covering a distance of 526 km.
The project may sound unbelievable, especially in the case of Kerala lagging in industry and infrastructure development for decades.
Estimated to cost Rs 1,18,000 crore on completion, the first phase is expected to cost Rs 43,000 crore. It will also be showcased in 'Emerging Kerala Global Connect' at Kochi from September 12-14.
"If all preparatory works progress on schedule and the project starts by April 2013 as planned, the first phase is expected to be completed in five years and the second in the following two years. The whole project should be complete by 2020," said T Balakrishnan, CMD, Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (KHSRCL).
"Work of drawing up the Detailed Project Report is now on. Alignment study/survey has started; preparatory work on land acquisition has also begun. Recruitment of key personnel has begun," Balakrishnan,a former bureaucrat, told PTI.
Nine stations are proposed initially - Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Kannur Kasaragod and in the final stretch to Mangalore in Karnataka. Three more at Chengannur, Tirur and Thalassery, would come up at a later stage.
The total corridor length (upto Mangalore) would be around 571 km and it will have two parallel tracks each in standard gauge systems, independent of existing rail network in Kerala.
The government has appointed Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation as the nodal agency for the project, which could transform lives and economy by facilitating hassle free movement between cities and towns in "God's own country."
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has prepared the pre-feasibility study and meeting at the PMO level has given the green signal to all departments concerned. An all-party meeting at the state-level to form a consensus has been very positive.
"We have started discussing funding options with various agencies, including Japan's JICA and ADB. It's in the early stages and nothing has been finalized yet. However, during the Emerging Kerala event, we expect a lot of international companies and financing agencies to take part.The project will be discussed with them and more options may emerge from these discussions," said the KHSRCL CMD.
The DMRC recommended model in the feasibility report is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) owned by the Central and Kerala governments with Japanese participation. "But a final decision on this has not been taken yet and the government is keeping all options open, including PPP and hybrid models," he said.
On the technology, he said it was not an issue at all as that was already available worldwide.
"If we go by the DMRC recommendation, we can get it from Japan as a whole package, technology, funding, implementation everything. But it is also available elsewhere, in Europe, Korea and even in China, although the Chinese technology has not been fully tested and proven," he said.
About the Karnataka government's response to the project which extends to Mangalore, he said they had welcomed it. "Karnataka actually wants it to be extended to Udupi, thinking it will attract greater traffic from Kerala, especially as a pilgrimage centre," he added.
Videocon Industries will set up a Rs 250-crore manufacturing plant for ‘white goods' in the State.
Stating this, Mr Anirudh Dhoot, director of the company, told newspersons here that the product range includes air-conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators.
Finer details would be worked out in the next three months and a final announcement made during the ‘Emerging Kerala Global Connect' event in September.
Mr Dhoot said Videocon Industries would also invest Rs 100 crore in an IT park here, along the lines of those being promoted in West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.
The company has an entrenched presence in real estate catering to the niche area of IT infrastructure parks, he added.
The white appliances plant is expected to generate direct and indirect employment opportunities for 500 to 800 people.
Additionally, it will spawn ancillary industries that can bring in investments and generate jobs.
The land for the projects will be identified in due course. A pilot team from the company will visit various investment zones the State government has set up here.
The company is looking for a city with available port infrastructure for the white appliances plant since it intends to export 20 per cent of its production.
It is at present exporting these products from existing bases to South Africa, West Asia and Sri Lanka. Last year, export revenues amounted to Rs 500 crore.
Mr Dhoot said consultants Ernst and Young have been commissioned to prepare a detailed project report on the proposed manufacturing plant in Kerala.
The company is also a leading player in electronic goods manufacturing, and would not be averse to looking at opportunities here provided they make business sense.
According to Mr Dhoot, tourism and IT have excellent opportunities for growth in the State.
Being chairman of the Kerala Development Council of Assocham, he would want the State to look at new areas of growth as in SME clusters, medical tourism, technology parks and BPO.
Even as the Oommen Chandy government gets ready to host the high-profile Emerging Kerala 2012 Global Connect, decks have been cleared for the first Chinese investment in the state.
TPJ Group, a Kottayam-based company manufacturing rubber products, has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Jingdong Rubber Company that operates out of China's Hebei province for two joint ventures.
During their recent visit, a team of officials from Kerala assessed the technology being used by the Chinese firm and its facilities. They found that rubber waste is efficiently recycled by Jingdong. The company produces rubber sheets, mats and sports goods.
Jingdong and TPJ Group are looking to set up a white reclaim rubber production unit with an annual capacity of 1200 tonnes in Kerala. White reclaim rubber, made out of the waste material from latex factories, is a much sought after product in several countries including China.
Jingdong will invest 30 per cent towards the share capital of this joint venture (JV) and is expected to buy the bulk of the production. The surplus may be sold in India.
The second JV, in which Jingdong will invest 49 per cent of the equity, will take up the construction of indoor stadiums, synthetic tracks and courts in Kerala. The Kerala government has provided 10 acres of land in Kasaragod district for setting up the factory.
Jingdong will supply both raw material as well as machinery for the project and arrange training for the Indian staff too. The Chinese company has so far implemented over 30 such projects and was even involved in preparations for the Beijing Olympics.
Jingdong has the approval of the International Association of Athletics Federations to make sports courts, artificial turf and synthetic tracks. It has already done so in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Thailand.
According to the TPJ Group, the proposed venture will help address the issue of inadequate sporting infrastructure in Kerala. "A sports-loving state, Kerala has produced a number of world class athletes. But sports development has suffered in the past few years due to lack of infrastructure and facilities for talented young sportspersons," rued Mr George Thomas, the group's managing partner.
"A specialised sports construction company based in the state would be of particular advantage since Kerala is to host the 35th National Games in 2013," he stressed.
The group has been producing stable mats, hollow mats and various kinds of tyre flaps at its three units since 1986. They export 60 per cent of their products to the Middle East, Europe and the US.
At Emerging Kerala 2012, the Kerala government will facilitate connect initiatives, including B2B and B2G meets. Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) is the nodal agency for the event while the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) are the trade and industry partners.
The over three-crore population of the state may be small compared to those of the other Indian states and the state’s rate of industrialization negligible.
But some of the fastest growing urban centres matching global standards are in Kerala, global management consultants McKinsey has noted.
In its latest report, McKinsey identified five cities from Kerala that could become a part of the 600 booming global cities by 2025. The cities are identified on the basis of their potential economic growth or Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Apart from Kochi, Kozhikode and Thrissur, the surprise finds are Kollam and Thalassery.
Of the 136 new cities joining the 600 Club, 100 are from China and 36 from India. Among the states, Kerala and Maharashtra contributed the maximum number to the club – five each, followed by Andhra Pradesh –three.
According to McKinsey, these 600 cities will account for nearly 65 per cent of the global GDP growth.
“With new hot spots emerging and household wealth surging in little-known urban centers, companies may have to adopt a much finer-grained approach to tap into the growth that lies ahead,” the report said.
According to former president of the CII Kerala chapter, Nawaz Meeran, Kollam and Thalassery must have found a place in the list probably due to the large number of emigrants from these places.
“Thalassery has some remarkable entrepreneurs who have set businesses in various parts of the globe. Kollam also has a large emigrant population,” Meeran said.
Kerala government has decided in principle to implement the seaplane project aimed at boosting tourism in the state.
The public sector Pavan Hans would be entrusted with the work to carry out technical feasibility study of the project, State Minister for Tourism A P Anil Kumar said after a meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to discuss it.
Five companies have approached the state government expressing interest in the project, he said adding government aims to have an open sky policy instead of having monopoly for any particular company.
A final decision would be taken on the project planned under Tourism Development programmes only after conducting environment impact and financial feasibility of the project, he said.
A total of 20 spots have been identified for the project now, he said. Government plans to showcase the project in the coming 'Emerging Kerala' meet to be held in September in Kochi.
Seaplanes are small aircraft designed to take off from land and float in the water.
In Kerala, they have their heads in the clouds and eyes on non-residents. A fifth international airport-and India's first wholly private one-is coming up in a state where no highway is more than half as wide as the National Highways Authority of India's standard minimum of 60 metres.
No other state in the country has as many international airports. Tiny Kerala, where narrow roads are the norm due to lack of land, clearly bets its future on its vast army of non-resident Keralites whose remittances account for 31% of the state's GDP.
Fittingly enough, the new airport is coming up at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district, where a toy plane flown into a crowd could well hit a non-resident Indian.
"It's going to be the most state-of-the-art airport in the state, with two runways and a taxiway," Gigi George, managing director of the Chennaibased KGS Group, the airport's promoter company, told ET.
George said the company has got every clearance in hand and 750 acres have been acquired for the project.
The Aranmula airport will be close to multiple tourism destinations such as Kumarakom, the backwaters of Alappuzha, and the high ranges of Kumily, the Thekkady tiger reserve, and most of all, the pilgrimage centre of Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Pathanamthitta district.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) was willing to work with the state government in the field of education and culture, said Shigeru Aoyagi, director and Unesco representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
"Ahead of the 'Emerging Kerala' meet when the state is trying to woo investors, it is very important to display the capability of the human resource here, which should include the portrayal of the rich culture of the state. Unesco is willing to work with the state in this regard," he told TOI.
Aoyagi also hailed the rich reading culture of the state, as well as the role played by the library movement in boosting this. While India's neighbouring countries are struggling to raise their literacy level, this state achieved that way back in the 90s. "Countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have reached only the 50% mark," he said.
Aoyagi said literacy could be promoted in rural areas only by inculcating the habit of reading in people. "Kerala's achievement cannot be ignored, especially at a time when Unesco is devoting the decade (2003-13) to promote literacy," he said.
During his two-day visit to the state, Shigeru Aoyagi held discussions with chief minister Oommen Chandy, industries minister P K Kunhalikutty and education minister P K Abdu Rabb, and expressed Unesco's willingness to work in cooperation with the state.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and State ministers attended an Industry Interactive Session organised by ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) in New Delhi on July 2. The session was aimed at attracting investors to the 'Emerging Kerala 2012' conclave being planned in the State in September.
The Chief Minister invited investors present at the function to the global investor event "Emerging Kerala" to be held at Kochi this September. "With 14 sectoral conferences this event would open up business opportunities in aerospace, green energy, financial services, food and agriculture, ports, logistics, ship building, IT, Biotech amid other sectors," said Mr Chandy.
Speaking at the function, the Chief Minister elaborated on the transformation planned for the State and the opportunities it held for investors. The State will focus on knowledge based agro-industrial projects to bring about the transformation, he said.
The Chief Minister said that the Kochi-Palghat-Coimbatore industrial corridor would open up huge opportunities for industrial units and business and trade. The corridor would have nine industrial zones, two agro processing zones, two tourism zones and a power hub. The corridor with an outlay of Rs23,500 crores was expected to generate seven lakh jobs.
Replying to the queries raised, the Chief Minister dispelled the impression about labour problems in Kerala. He pointed out that not even a single industrial stoppage had occurred due to strikes in the State last year. "The labour problem is a past story" he said.
Mr Chandy assured the investors that there would not be any problem with land acquisition as the government had already set up industrial and biotech parks. The Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) already had acquired over 400 acres of land for setting up food processing units. The State is also developing a Marine Park at Beypore for the sea food industry, an oceanarium for tourists, a coconut park at Kuttiyadi, a Spices Park at Idukki, and two Mega Food Parks in Wayanad and Kinaloor.
Mr Chandy also highlighted the opportunities available in the IT sector, in the backdrop of the SmartCity coming up in Kochi. The tourism sector was another area with huge potential, especially health tourism and Ayurveda sectors.
The CM said that the State was inviting further investment in infrastructure. It already had three existing airports, and one more is planned. In addition to the ICTT at Vallarppadom, it plans to develop one more ICTT at Vizhinjam and 18 minor ports. Coastal shipping was also being developed as it was more economical and could take the traffic off the roads.
Mr Anil Agarwal the past president of ASSOCHAM who presided over the function, lauded Kerala for ranking first in human development index among all the states of the country. He hoped the State would repeat the feet in industrial and economic development too, as it is blessed with an intelligent and skilled population.
The Chief Minister released the ASSOCHAM-Frost & Sullivan report titled "Kerala: Road Map for Inclusive Growth 2012" on the occasion. Mr DS Rawat, National Secretary-General, ASSOCHAM said that the industry body has opened a window for investors to send their proposals for the Emerging Kerala event. He added that ASSOCHAM would be closely interacting with the organisers in pushing the proposals by its members.
Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani, Planning Minister KC Joseph, and top officials also attended the event.
Abu Dhabi: The south Indian state of Kerala is trying to cash in on the reputation of its people, who constitute the largest Indian community in the UAE, to seek foreign investments for its ambitious megaprojects which include a 650km high-speed railway, an official of the state delegation visiting the UAE said on Sunday.
Highly educated and skilled Keralites are everywhere in the world, including the UAE, and have acquired a very good reputation, according to V. Somasundaran, Additional Chief Secretary in charge of Industries and Commerce in the Kerala state government.
A prominent Indian businessman said when India’s economy was opened to foreign investments in 1991, they were advised to take their Emirati business partners to India to look into opportunities there.
“They said it would be beneficial to both Indians and Emiratis to strengthen their existing relationships,” said Mohan Jashanmal, the chairman of Indian Business and Professional Group, Abu Dhabi.
Article continues below
The group hosted an event on Sunday evening for two senior Kerala government officials who presented the projects to be unveiled in ‘Emerging Kerala’. It is a global networking programme designed to bring together people from all walks of life who are interested in investing in the state.
The tender for the proposed projects will be ready at the ‘Emerging Kerala’, said Alkesh Sharma, Managing Director of Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation. The event will be held at Kochi, the city known as the commercial and industrial hub of the state, from September 12 to 14.
The Kerala government has identified 26 thrust sectors to be presented before the investors. Of these 10 will be core sectors.
Among the 10 core projects, the high speed railway will be the first of its kind in South Asia, they said.
The corridor linking Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the state in the southernmost part, to Kasargode, the northernmost city, will be independent of the existing 1,148km railway lines on 13 routes in the state, they said.
The first phase of the project connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi, will cost Rs45 billion (Dh2.97 billion).
Kochi Metro, a world-class Light Mass Rapid Transit System in Kochi City, of Rs450 billion and monorail projects at Thiruvananthapuram (of Rs34.08 billion and Kozhikode (of Rs15 billion) are also part of the ambitious infrastructure projects.
The officials said the government has set up an online single-window clearance system which facilitates the processing of licences and approvals can be secured within 90 days for investors.
When an Abu Dhabi government official inquired whether the 90-day duration is a long time to get all clearances, Somasundaram said: “It is the maximum time. In most of the cases, the clearance will be given in a shorter time.”
He explained that some projects like that of gas infrastructure need environmental impact assessment and related approvals which require a little time.