If a decades-old homegrown manufacturing giant in Tamil Nadu is mulling a new plant outside the state, it sure points to the state’s decline post-Jaya era.
The ground reality in the state is disappointing, especially at a time when neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka are aggressively marketing their states to investors with sops in good measures.
Industrialists reveal a sense of dejection and even disgust at how low the state had sunk. What was more concerning was that the political leadership also failed to gain the confidence of the people and the investors.
On condition of anonymity, an industrialist said it was sad that politicians ask of entrepreneurs “with whose permission are you doing? You need permission from me”. All and sundry politicians ask this in a direct hint that if they are not pleased enough, their permission may be withheld.
Negative sentiments among the industrialists and business leaders only goes to prove what Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the need to wipe out both the corrupt Dravidian parties in the state.
It is not for nothing that industrialist and investors are having second thoughts about investing in Tamil Nadu, which is undergoing a political turmoil at one level and protests every day on this or that issue. And the Sterlite killings and shutting down of the Copper Smelter Plant of Vedanta will only encourage other industries too to begin looking elsewhere.
Unrelated though, KIA Motors, makers of Hyundai, has taken its expansion plans outside Tamil Nadu and Samsung too is said to be favouring other location for expansion of capacities instead of Tamil Nadu.
An AIADMK leader and former MP, KC Palaniswamy admits that post-Jaya situation had deteriorated in the state.
R Ganapathi, senior vice president, South Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and chairman Trygen Technologies, said, “Tamil Nadu has seen such setbacks in the past and has come out strong, but this setback seems a little different, combined as it is with neighbours offering favourable investment opportunities to potential investors. This the government must review in the context of the fact that Sterlite is not the only copper plant shut down in the world. Last year China shut down a plant.
However, a fair solution is yet to arise for this situation. It may be recalled that even when the plant was set up in 1994, it did not comply with the conditions of the pollution board. But since then technologies have evolved that can address some of the environmental issues. But, an independent, external, expert third party inquiry alone can find a solution. Implementing and retrofitting the recommendations of such a probe panel is the key to resolve the environmental issues. India needs Copper and this needs to be done urgently.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu will face some stress from potential investors given the fact that a near 30-year-old plant was closed after long operation in the state.
Tamil Nadu does not depend on Sterlite alone for its industrial growth – its core competency is in automobile, auto ancillaries, Agri products, textiles, leather and a strong backbone of MSME sector.
Industry goes to where it has greater opportunities to generate maximum returns. It looks at cost of money, cost of land, cost of finance and cost of power to take investment decisions. A fast-acting administration should tackle these and still make TN an attractive destination, Ganapathi said.
Earlier, Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswamy was concerned over the slump in Tamil Nadu and had invited a group of top industrialists and business leaders to seek ideas to make TN work as an investment destination.
AIADMK leader Palaniswamy said there was an urgent need to run the government efficiently and place good knowledgeable officers to handle this arena.
Prof Panchapagesa Murali, former president of Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprise, is convinced that Tamil Nadu can become a global leader in areas like deep learning, artificial intelligence, very interesting and useful developments are taking place in Tamil Nadu – the Mathematical Institute is putting together tough algorithms for multiple drug resistance etc. A lot could be done in Biotech, but the right people don’t find encouragement.
In Biotech, the policy was framed during the time of Jayalalithaa and after she passed away, the required thrust is not forthcoming. Going by the experts, the ground reality in Tamil Nadu is, indeed, very disappointing.