: A range of factors including shortage of manpower, inadequate infrastructure development and constraints in banking intervention have emerged as challenges to the growth of industries in Ambattur Industrial Estate, which has one of the biggest clusters of tiny, small and medium scale units on the outskirts.

The industrial estate has a number of units specialising in garment, auto ancillaries, chemicals, plastics and engineering.

“We are worried about this year's monsoon because the infrastructure was built almost 40 years ago,” said R.Sridharan, President of Ambattur Indutrial Estate Manufacturers Association (AIEMA).

Entrepreneurs say that the north-east monsoon has been wreaking havoc on the industrial estate because of the inundation of the north phase by water from the Ambattur Lake. Over 300 units are normally affected every year and many of the units are forced to remain closed for a month.

“Water level near my unit rose to 3 feet during the last monsoon,” said R.Jaishankar, an entrepreneur. He added that such problems became more challenging last year as public sector banks were unable to empathise with the entrepreneurs in tackling the impact of the global recession.

The attitude of a major public sector bank was responsible for closure of over 40 units, he said. Many units based on auto components survived.

“The banks failed to understand that profit booking was not possible during that period,” said R.Mathimugan, Secretary of Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Tiny Entrepreneurs.

Many of the tiny units are taking loan from private lenders at a very high rate of interest, he added.

“The units have started to get very good orders, but there is less manpower now,” said S.Srinivasan, an entrepreneur.

One of the units with a capacity to employ 35 workers has only 20 on the rolls. One of the reasons given by the manager of the unit was the rising interest in white collar jobs.

The units are now focussing on school dropouts and training them for employment. Migrants from north India have started to joining as workers in large numbers.

“We seriously lack good roads, lighting, waterways and technicians,” said Mr.Srinivasan.

A few entrepreneurs stressed the need for other infrastructure developments such as the strengthening of a bridge near the entrance of the estate on the road connecting Korattur. They also require the speedy restoration of the waterway and street lighting along the Third Main Road. As foreign buyers are conscious of environment, working out a plan for effluent treatment is another problem for the units as the industrial units are of different types and require different technology.

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