CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu, one of the favourites among investors, suffered a setback on the industrial front in 2017 on account of political twists and turns.
While government projects slowed, investment proposals stalled following the death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and other political developments, including a jail term for V K Sasikala.
The silver lining, however, came from the push for the aeronautics industry, with the state allocating adequate land to set up the first aerospace park. Tamil Nadu, otherwise home to various automobile and information technology companies, kept its focus on aeronautics, given the available skills.
This is attested by the fact that a number of aero- engineering students pass out from various colleges in the state every year.
The point to note is the sudden political vacuum created by Jayalalithaa's demise hindered implementation of business plans. Investors were concerned about securing expeditious clearance for their proposals from government authorities.
"Initially, we were hesitant on future investments in Tamil Nadu, but have been assured that our concerns will be addressed," said a top executive of an automobile company.
Soon after the K Palaniswami government assumed office in February, Finance Minister D Jayakumar announced in the Assembly that an aerospace park is on the way. It is to be set up on 268 acres at the Vallam-Vadagal SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Kancheepuram with an estimated project cost of Rs 350 crore.
The park would see companies setting up operations in manufacturing aerospace components and providing maintenance and repair services, he said.
As part of efforts to ramp up infrastructure, the government also plans to set up plastic industries park in Tiruvallur district at an investment of Rs 264 crore.
According to the minister, the Centre has cleared the decks for setting up the first medical park in the state with an estimated cost of Rs 130 crore on 330 acres in Kancheepuram.
On the Global Investors Meet, the state's maiden event that attracted investments of over Rs 2 lakh crore in 2016, a government official said the bi-annual event is on track and will be conducted next year, too. The first edition kicked off with Jayalalithaa at the helm.
To push infrastructure, the state government has decided to undertake the second phase of investment promotion programme, with a Rs 1,295-crore assistance programme from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
"Besides improving the policy environment to make the state investor friendly, this scheme will further strengthen infrastructure for industrial development (in the state)," the state finance minister said.
The Tamil Nadu government, as part of quicker disposal of investment proposals, also released a 'single window clearance' in 2017 to allow faster processing of these applications. With this facility -- available on portal www.easybusiness.tn.gov.in -- eligible investors can avail of 37 government services without any human interface.
The portal is expected to serve as a single point platform for accepting applications and electronically distributing the same to respective authorities and also taking fee payment from enterprises digitally.
On the front of tourism and growth, the state unveiled plans for a second parallel runway at the Chennai airport. The meeting was chaired by Palaniswami and attended by civil aviation secretary and senior AAI officials.
The city airport, according to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, needs a modern parallel runway to cater to the growing passenger traffic and the Centre and state have to partner for this cause.
An industry official said the annual passenger traffic at the Chennai airport is set to increase to 35 million in coming years, from the current 20 million.
The Centre is working on a plan for a greenfield airport near here, for which around 2,000 acres have to be provided by the state government, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in Chennai recently.
Coming to IT, software export from the state has been on the upswing over the last few years and is expected to hit Rs 1,00,300 crore by 2017, said a government official.
The state has been promoting Information Technology parks in tier II cities and this year, an additional IT park at Sholinganallur and a start-up warehouse in Coimbatore are being set up.
With active support of the Centre, the state is taking the initiative to promote an electronic hardware industry hub at Sriperumbudur near Chennai.