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Targeting ₹30-lakh crore investments in 10 years: TN Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on July 21, 2021

Thangam Thennarasu, Tamil Nadu Minister for Industries at an interaction with Business Line in Chennai.   -  Bijoy Ghosh

We are interested in balanced and equitable industrial development across the State, says Thennarasu

Amid continuing its fight against the pandemic, the M K Stalin-led DMK government, which came into power in Tamil Nadu this April, on Tuesday announced its first set of new investments. The State government has indicated ambitious plans for economic growth and attracting industrial investments. Tamil Nadu’s Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu spoke to BusinessLine on his government’s plan to attract investments, equitable development and job creation. Excerpts:

What is your initial assessment of the State’s industrial scenario?

A lot needs to be done. We need to improve the investment scenario in the State. This is our immediate priority. There is a need to get more investments. More factories are needed to spur industrial activity across the State to generate more employment opportunities for the people.

There has been concern that the state has not seen balanced industrial development...

Yes, I agree that balanced development didn’t happen in the past. There was no commitment on the part of the previous governments, particularly in the past 10 years. Our late leader M Karunanidhi was the one who brought the new industrial policy in 2007 and I was a member of the committee. He conceived the policy with an intent to promote industrial development in southern districts based on the recommendations of the Justice Rathnavel Pandian Committee then.

The report suggested various measures to drive industrial activity and thereby creating employment opportunities, lack of which was cited as the major reason for caste or communal violence and unrest. But it didn’t take off. Successive governments also announced a special purpose vehicle to develop southern districts. But it remains on paper.

What are your government’s plans to divert investments to other districts?

We are interested in balanced and equitable industrial development across the State. Be it Nanguneri SEZ, industrial corridor between Madurai and Tuticorin or any other industrial estates, we want to attract more industrial units. Hence, the Governor’s recent address made it clear that we will concentrate on industrially backward districts. For the first time in the history of TN governments, a governor’s speech mentioned the location-specific focus. Because northern districts are still backward both in terms of education and industrialisation. Investments into this region will help create jobs and also improve the quality of people’s lives.

Are you devising specific plans to attract investments into southern districts?

Kanyakumari region is a fertile land and cannot be used for industrial projects. The only alternative is Nanguneri and Gangaikondan areas due to availability of barren lands. We plan to develop Naguneri into an industrial hub as it would be beneficial to districts such as Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli Nagercoil and Tuticorin. Also, we have not seen expansion of our own groups into southern districts.

Our big industrial groups such as TVS, Amalgamations, Rane, Ramco Group, Shiv Nadar Group have to be attracted beyond Madurai. They have all gone to other places for expansion. They have not been facilitated to go to southern districts. Their investments in southern districts will have a big impact and lead to transformation of the region. Also, we need one big anchor investment as it will give the much-needed boost to industrial scenario in the region.

Are you also focussing on attracting investments in emerging segments?

Tamil Nadu’s strength lies in automobiles, textiles and leather. But there are huge opportunities for us in futuristic segments such as electric vehicles, renewables, semiconductors, medical equipment and food processing. These are some of the key focus areas for us going forward to attract investments. Of course, we are open to attract investments in all sectors. Also, we are working in such a way that the emerging industries also bring huge employment opportunities. Another important thing is we want to ensure that there shouldn’t be any exploitation of natural resources. We want our investors to come and grow by having a care for the environment.

Has your government set any investment target?

We are working towards attracting investments of more than ₹30 lakh crore over the next 10 years. On Tuesday, more than ₹17,000 crore worth of new projects was signed up. Tamil Nadu is still a preferred destination. But we need to give more push and be aggressive given the growing competition among the states to attract industrial investments. What I would like to convey to investors is we would like to be very transparent in our investment facilitation. When we talk of ease of doing business or single window clearance, we really want that to happen in the true sense. I would call this as ethics that we will follow.

Has the Sterlite issue dented the image of the State’s industrial climate?

The Sterlite issue is not a hurdle for attracting investments in Tamil Nadu, in particular the southern districts. It has not affected any other industrial project in the region as it is purely a local issue. It is also a lesson for the governments to ensure that industrial investments don’t create any local issues. Because social harmony in investment regions is very important for sustainability of industries and economic growth. We need to ensure participation of local people and jobs for local people while attracting new investments.

Published on July 20, 2021

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