Poor amenities forcing industries to quit Sederapet

A cesspool of neglect: A waterlogged stretch of an interior road at the Sederapet Industrial Estate in Puducherry.

A cesspool of neglect: A waterlogged stretch of an interior road at the Sederapet Industrial Estate in Puducherry.   | Photo Credit: S.S. KUMAR

During rainy season, the area gets flooded with sewage, making it difficult to drive on the interior roads; units depend on borewells for water

Sederapet Industrial Estate is fast losing its sheen as a major industrial centre. The units in the area are struggling to sustain optimum production levels. Investors blame lack of civic amenities and poor condition of the roads for the present state of affairs.

In spite of a number of industries moving out, the estate still accounts for a major chunk of revenue to the Union Territory in the form of Goods and Services Tax.

Established in 1986 with 10 units initially, the industrial estate rose to prominence between 1990 and 1995 when it had around 100 industries, mostly small scale units, employing nearly 15,000 people.

No investment subsidy

“Like in the other industrial parks, the slowdown started with the Centre withdrawing the investment subsidy. But our real problem is the continued neglect of the area. Now, we have about 50 units employing 7,000 to 8,000 people. Not even a few metres of interior roads are motorable,” says G. Thirupathi, vice-president of Sederapet Industries Association. The roads have not been repaired for the last 10 to 15 years, he says.

Association president V. Santhanam says because of the state of roads, the industrialists are reluctant to show foreign clients around their factories. “Besides the difficulties faced by truck operators and workers, roads are an eyesore,” he says.

The industrial estate, which boasts units of prominent corporate groups like Larsen and Toubro, Siechem and Eaton Power Systems, lacks proper drainage system.

“We have been asking the Pondicherry Industrial Promotion Development and Investment Corporation Ltd. to lay sewer lines. During rainy season, the entire area is filled with sewage. But the corporation has failed to address the issue,” says association secretary M. Nandakumar. “We don’t deserve such shoddy treatment because as a cluster we contribute a huge amount as GST. Last year, the contribution was around ₹100 crore,” he says.

The opening of several liquor shops in the area has been a matter of concern, says Mr. Nandakumar.

Apart from the issue of poor road connectivity and absence of sewer lines, the estate does not have a clean water supply system. Most units depend on borewells for water.

“Borewell water is not potable. We incur extra expenditure to get clean water,” says Mr. Santhanam. If the industrial estate has to regain its lost glory, the government has to address the infrastructure issues.

“There are more than 1,000 women working in the units. But there is no crèche in the area. There are no canteens or restaurants. The government has to stop its step-motherly attitude towards the units here,” says association vice-president I. Syed Sajjadh Ali.

Lack of facilities has forced many industrialists to look for land in Tamil Nadu for expansion. “I have bought land in Vanur in Tamil Nadu for expansion. There is no point in waiting here. We pay maintenance fee to PIPDIC and property tax to Villianur Commune panchayat,” says Mr. Santhanam.

Lack of funds

PIPDIC chairman R. Siva says the issue has been raised with the authorities concerned. “We are aware of lack of facilities. The government wants to promote industrial activity. But the corporation has to take care of several industrial estates in Puducherry and Karaikal. We are short of funds to take up road improvement work,” he says.

The Villianur Commune Panchayat has to take action as the civic body collects crores of rupees from the units as property tax.

“We are waiting for funds from the Centre to maintain industrial estates. We will address their concerns once we receive funds,” Mr. Siva says.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 7:42:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/poor-amenities-forcing-industries-to-quit-sederapet/article30352597.ece

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