Palakkad: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a major crisis in the economic sector of Kerala. Many industries are in trouble and several people are staring at job loss. Worsening the situation, the return of non-resident Indians who lost their livelihood abroad following the global crisis would add to the number of unemployed people in the state.
However, to overcome these difficulties, Kanjikode has been offered as a solution by even the Chief Minister, among others. An industrial area in Palakkad district bordering Tamil Nadu, it has the potential to rise to the occasion as it has infrastructure to manufacture low-cost ventilators and also rehabilitate people who have lost jobs.
According to experts, the 2,000-acre Kanjikode industrial area beside the Salem - Kochi national highway is indeed the solution for the unemployment crisis looming over Kerala. Apart from the present industrial area another 1,500 acres would be added as part of the proposed industrial corridor. However, in order to fully tap the potential, effective administrative decisions, legal framework and economic support are needed.
From missiles to bottle caps
At present, industrial units in Kanjikode manufacture products ranging from advanced Tatra trucks that can launch missiles to bottle caps. There are single-worker units to large Central public sector industries like BEML. In fact, Kanjikode can host large, medium as well as small-scale industries. Already, around 50,000 people are directly employed in the 792 industries here and another 50,000 indirectly. About 50 per cent of them belong to other states.
The advantages of Kanjikode are, availability of land; three international airports within 150 km at Coimbatore, Kochi and Kozhikode; access to national highway; availability of technical experts and workers; availability of raw materials at relatively low cost; and presence of the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and its expertise.
Even when the potential is large, most industrialists in Kanjikode face several problems. While some have shut their units, others are on the verge of doing so. It is pointed out that only the support of political and labour leaders and the government could help the units come out of their crisis.
The industrial area here comprises an industrial development area, new industrial development area, Wise park - industrial and textile park, mega food park and light engineering park of KSIDC at Attappallam.
Meanwhile, facilities are being set up to store and process paddy from Palakkad, pineapple from Ernakulam and banana from Wayanad at KINFRA’s Food Park in Kanjikode. Over 90 per cent of the Rs 119-crore project has already been completed. It is estimated that 2,000 people would be employed directly and another 10,000 indirectly at the park, extending to 79.42 acres. In the second phase, another 20 acres would be acquired. Cold-storage facilities, warehouses and other facilities have been built and around 50 units are planned. Many investors have booked slots at the park.