G. Prabhakaran

PALAKKAD: When the foundation stones of a railway coach factory and a defence project of BEML Ltd., formerly Bharat Earth Movers Ltd., are laid at Kanjikode on January 18, the district will get set for faster industrialisation.

The mega projects will help Kanjikode emerge as Kerala’s new investment destination. They will come up in the Kanjikode-Pudussery-Walayar industrial belt on the National Highway 47 stretch from Palakkad town to Walayar, which is on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

Other major projects, such as a defence park announced by the Centre for manufacturing defence communication equipment and an information technology park of the State government, will also boost industrial activities.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan announced last week in New Delhi that Railway Minister Lalu Prasad would lay the foundation stone for the integrated railway coach factory. The initial investment is Rs.6,000 crore. The State government has taken steps to acquire 360 hectares of land for the project.

N.N. Krishnadas, MP, told The Hindu here on Tuesday that the Railways had submitted the Detailed Project Report for the approval of the Planning Commission and the Union Cabinet. The sanctions are expected in time for the laying of the foundation stone.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony announced in Delhi on Monday that Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan would lay the foundation stone for the BEML Ltd. project.

The proposed unit will manufacture defence products and railway parts. As much as 160 hectares of land will be provided for it on a long-term lease at a concessional rate.

“Initially, the Centre will grant Rs.255 crore for the project. The State government had agreed to hand over another 600 acres [240 hectares] on a long-term lease for the expansion process,” the Defence Minister said.

Recently, he had announced the intention to set up the defence park, in collaboration with Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) at Kanjikode, which has 40 hectares of land for the project.

The work on the State government’s integrated textile park on 120 hectares of land at Kanjikode is nearing completion. The State government has announced its decision to set up the IT park in Palakkad.

These major projects will definitely make Palakkad the new industrial investment destination of Kerala. The Kanjikode industrial belt is the second biggest industrial area in Kerala after Kochi.

The strategic location of the district, with a high literacy rate, adequate power supply, cheap land, highest road density, skilled labour and a peaceful industrial climate, is the main reason for its emerging as a major industrial centre. The cheap wind energy is available because of the Palakkad Gap in the Western Ghats. The KSEB had set up windmills at Kanjikode long ago. The forest cover nearby gives a good environment for townships and industrial units.