It also emphasised the need to provide international air connectivity to Madurai and reactivating the Tuticorin airport, the report said.

Our Correspondent

Madurai, June 14

A CII-SPONSORED study titled `Industrialisation of southern districts - the unexplored opportunity' has come up with a model `Southern Prosperity Through Enhanced Economic Development (SPEED)', which, if executed, will propel the region into a higher degree of economic development.

The report suggests implementation of a series of schemes involving a total investment of Rs 33,375 crore.

This includes the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project at an outlay of Rs 2,233 crore, and road development projects connecting Tuticorin at a few thousand crores of rupees.

The report envisages the development of Madurai as a manufacturing hub, Tuticorin as a service hub, a knowledge corridor linking Madurai, Virudhunagar, and Tirunelveli districts, and a tourism corridor connecting Madurai, Ramanathapuram, and Kanyakumari districts.

The focus in the first phase should be on the development of infrastructure and promotion of Tuticorin as a hub.

These, in turn, will provide acceleration to the development of the satellite centres, the report said.

If the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project is completed as planned, vessel movement is expected to be in the order of 3,055 transits in 2008 and go up to 7,141 by 2025.

Besides facilitating movement of cargo and passengers, this will also give an impetus to tourism in the region.

Along with these, the hospitality industry will also gain momentum.

Combined with the heritage tourism in the Chettinad area of Sivagangai district, there is bound to be a leap, the report added.

It also emphasised the need to provide international air connectivity to Madurai and reactivating the Tuticorin airport. Stating this as an "urgent need", the report is emphatic that the initiative would help to develop the port as an export and service hub.

Sources in Tuticorin Port Trust expect a fillip in the demand in the ship building industry for Sethusamudram-specific vessels, as only vessels of 10-m draft would be allowed to sail through this channel.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 15, 2005)
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