‘Connectivity is the key'

Published : Dec 31, 2010 00:00 IST

P. Umanath, District Collector.

P. Umanath, District Collector.

WITH substantial funding from the State government, the Coimbatore district administration is focussing on the all-round development of the district through a number of infrastructure schemes.

“We are giving impetus to connectivity within the district as well as to destinations outside in order to trigger a wave of development,” said District Collector P. Umanath. Talking to Frontline about ongoing projects and about future plans, Umanath said signs of development were evident in the education and health care sectors.

The core infrastructure projects will change the face of the district, which has the second highest share in the gross domestic product of the State, the Collector pointed out. In the past, the district had not attracted much public investment, and whatever investment it received was not sufficient to meet major needs. Now, government investments, both from the Centre and the State, are being obtained for many projects.

“Coimbatore is the first district to get a State government-sponsored Tidel Park, that is, an IT [information technology] park. Even Chennai does not have a government IT Park,” he said. Even by conservative estimates, Coimbatore district will get a public investment of over Rs.3,000 crore through both State and Central government projects.

The major infrastructure projects will be completed over a period of five years. The focus is on connectivity because industries in the land-locked district need to get their products to ports quickly. Manufacturers are dependent on the ports in Tuticorin, Visakhapatnam or Kochi.

Importance is being given to improving air connectivity because manufacturers of jewellery and automobile components seek that route for quick delivery. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is expanding Coimbatore airport at a cost of over Rs.400 crore, and it is perhaps the first non-metro airport to get such attention. The administration is in the process of acquiring land for the expansion. The cost of land acquisition puts the total cost of the expansion at more than Rs.600 crore.

As for road connectivity, the busy NH 47 from Chengapalli to Walayar is being made into a four-lane road at a cost of Rs.860 crore. The National Highways Authority of India will build an eastern bypass from Sulur to Mettupalayam at a cost of Rs.650 crore. The State government will build a western bypass from Madukkarai to Mettupalayam Road at a cost of Rs.284 crore. This will connect Palakkad Road with Mettupalayam Road and will also link the Siruvani, Marudamalai and Thadagam roads.

Both bypass roads will help decongest the city roads that are used to reach the highways leading to Udhagamandalam, Sathyamangalam and Mysore. The spin-off expected is growth along the bypass roads.

To ensure a free flow of traffic, both inside the city and on roads linking it to the suburbs, 18 flyovers are to be built across level crossings at an estimated cost of Rs.270 crore.

Also, a flyover will be built at Gandhipuram in the heart of the city at an estimated cost of Rs.100 crore. This was announced by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi at the conclusion of the World Classical Tamil Conference on June 27, the Collector recalled. A world-class botanical garden, as announced during the World Classical Tamil Conference, will be set up in the heart of the city as lung space. The first phase will be over 45.42 acres (one acre = 0.4 hectare) at an outlay of Rs.20 crore. After the Central Prison is shifted, 100 acres more will also be used to expand the garden. The remaining few acres will be used to expand the bus stand and to construct a multilevel parking lot and a convention centre.

“With regard to the agriculture sector, the engineering marvel of the region, the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project's contour canal, will be renovated. Only repairs have been carried out since its construction in 1965,” said Umanath. Renovation of the 50-kilometre-long canal will prevent seepage and make available more water for irrigation.

Coimbatore is making substantial profits in the dairy sector. “The profit figures of the Coimbatore District Cooperative Milk Producers' Union are soaring,” he said. “In October, the highest ever procurement of 2.75 lakh litres a day was achieved in the State.

The dairy plant near Perur is being modernised at a cost of Rs.27 crore. The union is planning to raise its handling capacity from three lakh litres to five lakh litres a day. While 3.5 lakh litres will be sold as milk, the rest will be used to make ice cream, butter, buttermilk, flavoured milk and milk powder.

V.S. Palaniappan

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