Kerala's industrial scene witnessing sea change:KITCO
Kochi, Mar 26: Kerala is shrugging off its ''anti-industry'' image and if the present tempo of development continues for the next decade, the state will get rid of its perennial problem of unemployment among educated youth, says Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation (KITCO) Managing Director A X Joseph.
A joint venure of the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and the Kerala Government and registered with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), KITCO has been involved in a variety of activities like industrial site selection, conduct of techno-economic feasibility studies, energy audit and conservation studies, preparing project reports and even conceptualising, implementing and running state-of-the-art projects such as common effluent treatment plants, Mr Joseph told UNI.
Among the major projects that KITCO had been involved with recently included the expansion programme of the state-owned Malabar Cements, Kerala Feeds and Aushadhi, the complete project report for the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) and the Cochin Industrial Water Supply and common effluent treatment plant for the Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) at Kakkanad.
The common effluent treatment plant for the CSEZ, the first in Kerala, had been set up to international standards and the project report for a similar one at the Aroor-Chandiroor seafood processing area in Alappuzha district had been submitted to the government.
This was part of a Rs 50-crore project approved by the Centre in preparation for declaring the area as a ''zone of excellence'', Mr Joseph added.
Stating that Kerala's development in information technology tourism, shipping, infrastructure and civil aviation spheres in recent years had taken it on a fast growth trajectory, Mr Joseph said KITCO had been associated with projects in all these areas over the years.
''Both domestic and foreign investors are watching Kerala's fast changing industrial climate with an eagle eye and are waiting for opportunities to enter the state in a variety of areas.
''The state is in for huge foreign direct inevstment(FDI) once the port-based SEZ, approved by the Centre and the international container transshipment terminal, both to be located at Vallarpadom Island here, take off,'' he added.
The opening of a fourth international airport in Kerala at Kannur, already approved by the Centre and declaration of the exisiting three airports in the state to international standards would also help boost the state's foreign trade in a big way, Mr Joseph observed. These major projects, coupled with the setting up of the 2.5 million tonne Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at Puthvypeen Island on the western side and expansion of the Infopark on the east, would propel phenomenal economic growth and contribute to spin off benefits in the housing, hospitality, transport and service sectors in and around Kochi, Mr Joseph said.
Tourism, another thrust area in the state, was also attracting investments and had emerged as a major sector providing employment opportunities, he added.
Already, the benefits of these developments were percolating to the state's youth and even government engineering colleges were excelling in campus recruitments in Kerala, he said.
''The situation in Kerala is reaching a stage where even KITCO, which pays a 'decent salary,' is finding it difficult to get sufficient candidates in campus recruitment,'' Mr Joseph added.
While the expanding services sector offered job opportunities even to those who were not highly educated, an upgradation of the state's higher and professional education institutions would result in the state's youth being better trained to make use of the emerging opportunities, he added.
Set up in 1972, KITCO was in the process of opening its first overseas office in one of the Gulf countries, to make its presence felt in the international field.
KITCO had recently finished its first overseas project work involving an economic study for the expansion of the Salala airport in the UAE. The project work, in partnership with a Gulf-based company, was completed in three months time, Mr Joseph said.
A dividend paying company for the past eight years, KITCO's turnover of Rs 4.45 crore during last year had registered a 27 per cent growth during the current fiscal and it was expected to close this year with a turnover of Rs 5.60 crore.
It had prepared over 3,000 project reports and trained over 70,000 prospective entrepreneurs over the years, he added.