KINFRA to be Made More Eco, Investor-friendly: New MD
Thiruvananthapuram: Under the able leadership of Santhosh Koshy Thomas, the newly-appointed Managing Director of Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA), the government agency is poised to function as an effective and farsighted industrial accelerator in Kerala. Thomas, armed with a successful track record of heading State Public Sector Undertaking Traco Cables, has drawn up elaborate plans for implementing developmental activities for the current financial year and upcoming years.
KINFRA’s immediate job at hand is to facilitate the transfer of 170 acres of land acquired from FACT at Ambalamugal in Kochi to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) to set up the Petrochemical Park project. “KINFRA will acquire land from FACT and hand over the land parcel to BPCL simultaneously by September end,” said Thomas. The transferred land will be utilised for setting up the PSU oil company’s Polyols project. Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the sale of 481.79 acres of land, setting the ball rolling for the establishment of the Rs. 1200-crore Petrochemical Park project. The Park is being entirely funded by Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).
Moving on, the MD intends to follow practices which will take KINFRA ahead of the growth curve. “As a key facilitator of industrial promotion in Kerala, it should be focusing on to become more investor-friendly, by, of course, following the global best practices,” he said. The KINFRA MD is also keen on implementing greener industry standards to reduce carbon footprints and other pollutants.
So far, KINFRA has acquired 3800 acres, of which 80 per cent has been utilised. “The very basic function of KINFRA is to support new and existing entrepreneurs in Kerala’s industrial map. Facilitation and hand-holding of entrepreneurs, new and existing, are the prime goals of the organisation. Through the 24 Industrial Parks, KINFRA strives to make the State an attractive destination for industries,” said Thomas.
Given Kerala’s position as an emerging destination with regard to Industry 4.0, Thomas’ plans to develop the prospects of KINFRA are in alignment with the way the globally successful technology-enabled industries are envisaged. “The presence of establishments like Cochin Shipyard, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) coupled with a highly competitive and booming IT ecosystem and talent pool in AI and Robotics can help take the State’s industrial sector to greater heights,” he observed.
According to him, some of the major challenges for the State’s industrial development are scarcity of land and density of population, apart from the soaring real estate market prices. However, KINFRA has already identified about 5000 acres of land for prospective development of Industrial Parks. “Procurement of land is underway and we hope to build industrial areas focusing on larger concepts, especially manufacturing which is not very prevalent in Kerala. However, our ability in capacity building, particularly in micro, small and medium-scale industries is promising,” Thomas exuded confidence.
Upcoming KINFRA Projects
Keeping an eye on the enormity of future development, KINFRA’s five upcoming major projects – Mega Food Park in Palakkad, Defence Park at Ottapalam, Petrochemical Park in Kochi, Global Ayurveda Village in Thiruvananthapuram and International Convention Centre in Kochi – are envisaged to bring about tectonic shift in the industrial landscape of Kerala and give a boost to investor’s confidence.
KINFRA has already submitted Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the setting up of a Spice Park in Idukki. “We expect to receive the final approval for the project soon,” the KINFRA MD said. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs. 22 crore.
International Exhibition and Convention Centre
KINFRA is also planning to step into MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) and hospitality sectors in the current financial year. The MD is hopeful that KINFRA will sign an agreement with India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) to set up an International Exhibition & Convention Centre (IECC) at Kakkanad in Kochi. A Special Purpose Vehicle will be formed to implement the Rs. 160-crore project.
Rice Technology Park, Palakkad
In an attempt to address the shortage of rice availability in Kerala, KINFRA is planning to set up a Rice Technology Park in Palakkad. At present, the demand for rice is met by sourcing it from neighbouring States like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
“For the benefit of farmers of the State, KINFRA will directly procure paddy from them and perform the processing here with the establishment of Rice Technology Park,” Thomas said. The rice thus processed at the Park will be branded and sold in the State. The Rice Technology Park to be established on a five-acre land will manufacture other value-added products like rice bran oil and ready-to-eat items.
Carbon Neutral Coffee Project
In Wayanad district KINFRA is planning to acquire 100 acres of land to set up a Mega Food Park out of which 10 acres will be utilised to establish a carbon neutral coffee production plant. The project is envisioned to bring the largely unorganised coffee producers under KINFRA. Carbon neutral production mechanism imparts value addition to the final product, thereby helping farmers earn higher prices.
KINFRA will soon start the marketing activities for the Defence Park. “As part of its marketing, events will be held within and outside Kerala. We plan to go to places like Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad where defence industry is doing well and showcase the facilities and features offered at the Park at Ottapalam,” said the MD. Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to set up six testing facilities in the defence corridors across the country. Department of Defence Production has referred KINFRA to the MoD authorities for the establishment of a testing facility.
The Way Forward
The KINFRA MD has also underlined the importance of charting future course of the State’s largest industrial accelerator in order to make its initiatives effective and result-oriented. Recently, KINFRA has joined hands with KPMG, a leading professional services consultant, to draw up the roadmap for the future. “KPMG has been selected as the Knowledge Partner of KINFRA. ‘The Way Forward’ program is to understand necessary strategic steps to take the capacity building of industry forward,” he said.
KINFRA is mulling over building townships around its Industrial Parks based on viability studies and feedbacks from market participants. “In future, KINFRA needs to focus on strengthening sector-specific Parks and developing industries which are most suitable for the State,” he added.