There is a perception among industrialists in Madurai that the southern part of Tamil Nadu is being grossly neglected by the powers-that-be.

The potential for industrial investment, be it on the manufacturing front, healthcare, hospitality, tourism, is huge, but has remained largely untapped. The government should moot projects, encourage investments, says M. V. Muthuramalingam, Chairman, Vellamal Educational Trust.

According to him, there is no dearth of land for kick-starting projects, adequate energy and human resource available. "People down South will need some hand-holding. If the government moots some initiative to impart job-oriented training at subsidised rate, the unemployed youth in this region can be suitably placed," he said.

Vellamal Trust has undertaken a survey to collate the number of students who have not been placed in recent years, particularly its own alumni, to see how the institution can support such candidates.

"The Trust is young. And the students admitted here are mostly from down South, Since a majority of them hail from a rural background, they refrain from moving further away to eke out a living. We have now decided to take a list of such candidates and help them set up shop - even a tea-stall - so they can be independent, gainfully self-employed. We have just commenced this exercise,” he said, when asked how many the institute would be able to hand-hold.

“On the other hand, if the government promotes this region, there should be no paucity of employment as the boys are hardworking and sincere. There is lack of leadership to guide these youngsters,” mourned Muthuramalingam.

The Trust operates a hospital (is into healthcare) and runs educational institutions as well.

It recently forayed into solar power generation with the installation of a 10 MW solar plant. "We have submitted the application to the government and hope to start generation in four-five months. Once this is operationalised, we will be able to save up to 50 per cent of our energy cost. The investment on the solar project is around Rs 60 crore," he added.

Convention Centre

Velammal Trust has established the “Ida Scudder Convention Centre” in Madurai.

Claiming it to be the biggest convention centre in the South, Muthuramalingam said construction of the 75,000 sq ft complex was completed in 8 months.

“We have invested around Rs 25 crore on this project. It is on a 10-acre ground. We are in discussions for establishment of a hotel in the complex.”