A State government agency performs the role of facilitator so well that there is hardly a new project launched without its intervention.
IN 1990, when Kerala was an unlikely choice as an investment destination, one would have found it hard to believe that a government agency would be able to provide tailor-made walk-in-and-work environments for entrepreneurs willing to bet their money on the State.
Single-window clearances were but a dream then: most government windows were closed shut, seemingly forever. There was no concept of the government developing land for private investors; no way the State would provide infrastructure or common facilities; and no chance of its offering start-up support or even providing water, electricity or any other basic amenities.
Yet, in 15 years time, one State agency has perfected the role of the facilitator to such an extent that there is hardly a new project launched in Kerala today without its competent intervention. And that is true of all the sunrise sectors: food processing, apparel and textile manufacturing, entertainment and animation, information technology, hardware development, electronics, biotechnology, rubber, herbal products and seafood. The Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra), made popular by its acronym decorating almost every other industrial park in the State, has been offering a range of dedicated services to entrepreneurs, identifying the key potentials of each region and promoting core competency industries there, providing industry-specific infrastructure, building industrial parks and estates, complexes, special economic zones, futuristic theme parks and industrial corridors.
Kinfra has built 20 theme-based, literally speak-for-Kinfra parks its most effective advertisement today in specific areas such as garment making, infotainment, seafood, rubber, exports, food processing, electronics and biotechnology. Among them are Indias first food processing park at Kakkancherry near Kozhikode, a seafood complex (jointly with the Marine Products Export Development Authority) in Alappuzha, the first ever Industrial Export Promotion Industrial Park in Kochi and the International Apparel Park and the Film and Video Park in Thiruvananthapuram, a Rubber Park near Kottayam and a series of small-scale industrial parks in several districts.
The Kinfra special economic zone (SEZ) for animation and gaming in Thiruvananthapuram, its SEZ for food processing at Kakkancherry and Kozhikode and its SEZ for electronics in Kochi have been established on 30 acres each and have excellent infrastructure and facilities. The SEZ in Kochi is located inside the Kinfra Hi-Tech Park in Kalamassery. The SEZs for food processing have a range of facilities. Food processing is a key sector in the State, given Keralas predominantly agriculture-based economy.
Kinfra also acts as the nodal agency for the implementation of the Kochi Metro Railway and for the development of Keralas fourth airport in Kannur, and also for the Union Ministry of Food Processing, and ASIDE (Assistance to States for Developing Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities).
ASIDE is a Central scheme meant to ensure the involvement of the States in the export sector, with the Government of India providing a share of the export earning to each State on the basis of its export performance. The Central fund can be utilised by the State governments for creating infrastructure facilities such as export promotion industrial parks and electronic and other related infrastructure, equity participation in SEZs, setting up export processing zones, constructing roads, stabilising power supply, developing minor ports and jetties and common effluent treatment plants. Each State is required to identify a nodal agency to implement the scheme.
Kerala has appointed Kinfra as the nodal agency. It has provided assistance to many important institutions, to create, for instance, fish-processing centres and upgrade quality testing laboratories for seafood, cashew and other products. It has helped in the expansion of air-cargo complexes, water supply projects in industrial parks, development of the industrially important Airport-Seaport Road in Kochi, and renovation of industrial estates.
For its clients, Kinfra offers many support services, right from developing land and providing power and water to building common facilities such as effluent treatment plants, cold storages and industry-specific infrastructure. It also offers start-up support. It is perhaps the only statutory body in the country that offers single-window clearance to industrial ventures. Among its prime concerns is utilising native resources and preserving nature and natural resources.
Over the years, Kinfra has positioned itself as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, offering technological inputs, project assistance and incentives and opportunities for expansion and diversification. It has linkages with reputed institutions across the country and has empanelled consultants in various sectors to provide assistance to the investor. Entrepreneurs can seek Kinfras aid in anything from sourcing technology to preparing feasibility studies, preparing project reports, overseeing project implementation, and so on.
Kinfra has developed investment profiles on various products. It functions as the nodal point for the collection and dissemination of information and data relating to food processing in the State. It has launched a brand-creation campaign for the food-processing sector in Kerala, aimed at projecting the State as the ultimate destination for food-processing industries. It has also established an incubation centre for this industry at the Food Processing Park at Kakkancherry. Potential entrepreneurs can have their new ideas and products tested at the incubation centre, which will develop these on a mini commercial scale for test-marketing. If successful, the products can be launched on a full commercial scale. The major activities of the centre include product development and standardisation, shelf-life evaluation studies, packaging evaluation and food testing and safety system assessment.
According to Minister for Industries Elamaram Kareem, Kinfra is soon to implement 11 new projects that are expected to attract private investment to the tune of Rs.850 crore and would generate around 25,000 jobs. In the past two years, industrial parks developed by Kinfra have attracted investments worth Rs.102 crore with an employment potential of 7,500.
With development work under way on one of its most ambitious projects, the Biotechnology Park near Kalamassery in Kochi, Kinfra is now focussed on its new projects, the Integrated Textile Park in Palakkad district (at an advanced stage of planning and implementation on 350 acres), a Print Village in Thrissur district, a 350-acre mega Food Park in Wayanad district, the Spices Park in Idukki, a second Rubber Park in Pathanamthitta district and Advanced Technology Parks in Kozhikode and Thrissur districts.
No doubt, Kinfras signature mantra would have appeared over the top only the other day: Inspiring Growth. But today, confident Kinfra advertisements declare all over Kerala: From food processing to animation, we have been the foundation for several success stories. It has come a long way since the early 1990s.