Kochi-Palakkad Corridor : The New Route to Manufacturing Growth

 
Kerala seems all set to shrug aside its lackadaisical industrial and manufacturing past. Driven by a vision of long term sustainable and inclusive growth, the state has chalked out a development agenda that identifies industrial clusters and technology hubs as catalysts for economic progress. Giving shape to these plans with financial and infrastructure support are the state’s investment and industrial agencies like the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation.
 
The Project Details: The Kochi-Palakkad National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) is one such example. The mega industrial scheme worth Rs 48,824 crore will benefit the districts of Mallapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Palakkad and is estimated to have a project influence area of 8000 sq km. Envisaged as a PPP model, the NIMZ will be distributed on both sides of NH-544 (old NH-47) with a band-width of 25 km on both sides (total 50 Km) and a length of 160 Kms. The project utilizes 1700 hectares of unutilized land available with State or Central PSU’s with 3500 hectares of fresh land acquisition required. The plan is to establish the zone across 20 nodes in four districts as Special Economic Zones (SEZs) or Domestic Tariff Areas, depending upon the specific needs of the category of node proposed. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – either a normal or a Section 25 company – will be set up to oversee the development of NIMZs. The administrative structure of the corridor will also involve the state and central governments (responsible for the external linkages) and developers (to build the internal infrastructure). Since land is a premium in Kerala, the pre-requisite of contiguous land as laid in the National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZ), has been waived for the state. This means that the option of vertical growth will be explored while setting up the mega park.
 
The Vision: The NIMZ would be a combination of production units, public utilities, logistics, environmental protection schemes and ancillary facilities, operating in a business friendly ecosystem with approved procedures and superior physical infrastructure. The idea is to earmark specific processing and non-processing area, with the proposed hubs including electronics, petrochemicals & chemicals, service industry, emerging engineering industries, food & agro processing and gems & jewellery. Each of these six nodes will be developed as self-contained Industrial Townships containing industrial plots, social infrastructure components like housing complexes, healthcare facilities, educational facilities and recreational facilities, physical infrastructure components and specialized infrastructure.
 

The proposed infrastructural components are as follows:
 
Internal Components
 
o Internal Roads, culverts & drainage
o Water Treatment Plant
o Water supply and distribution, recycling system for irrigation & flushing
o Dedicated Sub-station & Power distribution System
o Street lighting
o Telecom & communication systems
o Sewerage network
o Common Sewage Treatment Plant (CSTP), including tertiary treatment
o Solid Waste Management
o Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) for Industrial Wastewater treatment; also Industrial Wastewater conveyance & recycling
o Rainwater harvesting
o Greenery
o Specialized infrastructure (like Tank Farms, Hazardous Chemicals Pipelines, Secured Land Fills and Warehouses).

 
External Components
 
o “Last Mile” Road Connectivity to the Nodes
o Rail Connectivity
o Tapping power from nearest HT/EHT Sub-station
o HT / EHT Power transmission
o Water Intake from River Source, pumping & conveyance to Node
 
Nimz Corridor
 
A gas based power plant with an installed capacity of Rs 2,500 MW would meet the power requirements of units operating here. The NIMZ will also be powered by 250 MW solar and 50 MW of wind power.
 
With such state of the art industrial and commercial infrastructure, the Kochi – Palakkad NIMZ is likely to evolve into a hub of manufacturing activity in line with the Central Government’s National Manufacturing Policy with the objective of enhancing the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25 percent within a decade and creating 100 million jobs in India.
 
The Benefits
 
Changing the Growth Profile: The benefits of the Kochi-Palakkad growth corridor will echo throughout the state. At present, manufacturing contributes 22 percent to the state’s gross domestic product. In contrast, services account for a whopping 66 percent. The setting of the Kochi-Palakkad NIMZ will open up more opportunities in the manufacturing sector and enable the state to pursue a more holistic approach to growth. The NIMZ is set to bring about a transformation to the state’s economic profile.
 
Fillip to Employment & Entrepreneurship: The two focus areas of state policies during the past years have been to give a fillip to employment and entrepreneurship. The Kochi-Palakkad growth corridor should help the government fulfil both these goals. As per government figures, the project is expected to generate five lakh direct employment in five years and 25 lakh indirect employment over a decade. Since the NIMZ is to be run in line with the Central Government’s National Manufacturing Policy, it will also encourage entrepreneurship in the state. As the infrastructure will already be in place, the NIMZ provides the perfect setting for first time entrepreneurs to try their wings!
 
Creation of Cluster Cities: The development of the NIMZ could lead to the creation of cluster cities along its length and breadth. Clustering brings advantages to both the industries as well as to the regions where they operate. The best example of this is, of course, the Silicon Valley. Cluster cities generally have higher competitiveness, better productivity, new business development, higher profitability and job opportunities. Economic policies followed by countries across the globe favour the formation of clusters as a development strategy that uses local resources to create jobs and wealth for local residents.
 
Greater Synergy: The setting up of NIMZ along with the LNG terminal at Kochi is expected to set in motion synergetic forces that will push up the momentum of economic growth in the state. In addition, the presence of ICTT, Vallarpadam, LNG Terminal, Kochi and Gas Pipe line from Kochi to Bangalore via Palakkad will become the key growth engines. The end result will be a Kerala with a plethora of professional talent and expertise in various domains and areas; talent that will come together with the common aim of building a better Kerala.