The making of a billion-dollar town

L N Revathy | Updated on February 15, 2011


Tirupur could have remained an obscure town, but for the entrepreneurial ability of the people, which has elevated the town to global heights.

Looking back, Tirupurians recall the establishment of the first knitwear unit, way back in 1925. The growth had been slow till the 60s.

The number of units started to increase significantly thereafter and by 1980, the export market also started to expand taking the little town to the international arena.

How it began

The first direct export from this small town is said to have been to Italy. The story goes that Italian garment importer Verona came to Tirupur in 1978 to buy white T-shirts. He was amazed at the potential of the handful of garment manufacturers and decided to source his requirement from this knitwear cluster.

The knitwear exports from this hub grew from Rs 10 crore in 1984 to over Rs 11,000 crore in 2006-07. Several leading brands such as Nike, Cutter & Buck, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, GAP, Katzenburg, Fila, Arrow, S Oliver, etc and chain stores such as C&A, WalMart, Sears, Mothers Care and H & M among others source from Tirupur. And through all these years, Tirupur was a part of Coimbatore District.

A new beginning

It was only in February 2009 that Tirupur got the distinction of becoming a separate district. And for Mr C Samayamoorthy, an IAS officer of the 2002 batch, who took over as the first Collector of the newly formed Tirupur District, the challenges were one too many. From regrouping the staff from different departments (of Coimbatore and Erode districts from which Tirupur was carved out) to chalking out action plans to improve basic amenities, he has had to start from scratch.

Since it was already an industry-driven region, soliciting public participation in developmental activities did not seem a Herculean effort.

For ensuring smooth administration, a new revenue division with Udumalpet as its headquarters was created.

Further in the case of Tirupur city, the Government came up with an order sanctioning the merger of adjoining eight village panchayats and two municipalities to expand the corporation limit by 2011.

This official enlargement of city boundaries, district administration sources say, compelled the administration to seek more funds as the infrastructure development within the present corporation limit had reached a saturation point and people had started to move to hinterland over the past several years.

Water needs

In the initial days of growth (up to mid-90s) the town witnessed acute water shortage. But then, exporters under the Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) umbrella in coordination with the Governments at the State and Centre and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL & FS) Mumbai came together to supply water from Cauvery River (about 55 km from Tirupur) for industrial and domestic use.

This massive Rs 1,100-cr project also envisages underground sewerage system for Tirupur, collection, treatment and disposal of sewerage and solid waste.

To attract buyers from all parts of the world to the citadel of knitwear industry, TEA and the Apparel Export Promotion Council constructed a Trade Fair Complex, where the India Knit Fair series – both the summer and autumn/winter collections are showcased from time to time.

In view of the rising volume of exports, banks, both Indian and foreign, began to establish their branch network in this region.

The district has not only witnessed industrial growth, but is rich in agriculture as well.

Published on February 15, 2011

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