From repealing archaic Acts to introducing policies to attract investments, the DMK government is going all out to make Tamil Nadu a $1-trillion economy. Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu highlights the upcoming initiatives in an interview. Excerpts:
What has been the government’s achievements on the industrial front?
Our primary aim is to bring in investments worth ₹23 lakh crore and create jobs for 46 lakh people by the end of 2030. To achieve this, we held three investment conclaves and signed 109 MoUs entailing a cumulative investment of ₹56,229.54 crore and envisaging jobs for over 1.74 lakh persons. New industrial zones and industrial land banks are being developed to establish sector-specific clusters for electronics, food and furniture. We are also delivering uninterrupted power supply to most industrial establishments. Initiatives have been taken to promote clean energy through renewable energy sources. A FinTech cell, an export cell and a work-lab cell (to strengthen the collaboration between the academia and the industry) have been formed. We are also promoting southern districts through special incentives.
So how do you intend to promote southern districts?
Steps are being taken to open new industrial parks in Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi, Sivaganga, Theni, Kanniyakumari, Pudukottai, Dindigul and Tirunelveli. Work is in progress in six of these districts. For setting up industrial complexes and development centres, SIPCOT will allocate land with 50% subsidy and 100% exemption from stamp duty.
Around 522.60 acres at Sipcot industrial estates/industrial development centres at Nilakkottai, Pudukottai, Manamadurai, Thoothukudi and Gangaikondan have been allotted at 50% subsidy. More than 624.68 acres of industrial land has been provided at 50% subsidy to 169 factories in the SIPCOT industrial parks in southern districts. These benefits will be extended to new SIPCOT parks in the nine districts. SIPCOT will come out with food parks in Theni and Thoothukudi. A detailed project report is being prepared. There are plans to set up a 1,500-acre industrial park in Virudhunagar (Kumaralingapuram, E. Muthulingapuram and Tulukkapatti villages) and a project report is being prepared. Besides, the Chennai-Kanniyakumari expressway will be implemented with financial assistance from Asian Development Bank.
What is the status of the Chennai-Kanniyakumari industrial corridor project?
To start with, two terminals — Madurai-Dindigul-Virudhunagar and Thoothukudi-Tirunelveli — will be given priority. The master plan for phase-I has been completed.
What is the update on the FinTech City?
Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation is identifying and appointing a project management consultant. The FinTech cell is working with FinTech firms, payment service providers and industry thinktanks to increase user adoption and encourage digital payments. The cell is also working with industry stakeholders for curating courses to develop talent pool in the FinTech space.
Everyone seems to be wooing Elon Musk on Twitter to invest in their States, but has anyone from Tamil Nadu reached out to Tesla?
Tweets don’t translate into investments. The tweet is just a small trigger. We need to have a lot of talks. Yes, we have shared details of incentives and the electric vehicle ecosystem in Tamil Nadu with them. We have informed them of the speedy approvals for land parcels. The challenges, including waiving of import duty, are within the realm of the Union government.
Ford will wind up operations at its Chennai plant as part of its revamping strategy. How does the State intend to handle this?
The government is closely monitoring the situation. We are ready to extend all assistance to Ford to revive production. We have reached out to other car manufacturers and in case any one of them comes forward, we will provide all assistance.
The Foxconn issue has opened up the Pandora’s box in terms of living standards of workers in the industrial belt, where many women are employed. How do you ensure living standards are good for industrial workers?
As soon as the issue broke out in Foxconn, the government intervened and held meetings. The management has plans to arrange hostel facility for 5,400 women employees. Around 1,600 have resumed work. Earlier this week, the Foxconn top management met Chief Minister M.K.Stalin and detailed the measures being taken for the welfare of employees. We asked them to bring in new investments. In the long run, SIPCOT is in advanced stages of taking up industrial housing which will benefit industrial workers.
A recent study shows Tamil Nadu has emerged as the most attractive investment destination in the first 9 months of FY 2022. What led to this?
It is due to the multiple policy initiatives taken by the State. A life sciences promotion policy, a research and development policy, a footwear policy and an updated EV policy are on the cards. The single window portal 2.0 has helped industries. Another 100 services are being planned to be offered through the single window portal by this year. The State has repealed, subsumed or amended archaic Acts and rules to reduce the burden of compliance. Reforms to reduce and simplify over 300 such mandates were introduced and 165 obsolete/redundant Acts were repealed.
How supportive is the Centre when it comes to industrial development in Tamil Nadu?
We have not had issues on industrial projects. We had discussions on the defence corridor and have identified some projects. We also had discussions with Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on the textile park.
Will you take forward the MoUs signed in the two Global Investors’ Meet held during the AIADMK regime?
We will not drop anything. There is no discrimination. We want industrial growth.
An interview is incomplete without asking the Industries Minister about the status of the second airport.
Four sites near Chennai have been identified. The government and TIDCO have requested the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to depute a team to evaluate them. AAI will send a team shortly. Once the site is finalised, TIDCO will appoint consultants for preparing a techno-economic feasibility report and selection of a developer.