Lack of air connectivity chokes foreign investments
COIMBATORE: Lack of flight connectivity is turning out to be a major impediment for the booming industrial sector in Salem to attract foreign investments.
Nevertheless, the investors are shying away from exploring the business potential of Salem as they have to take an arduous road journey to reach the city after flying down to either Bengaluru or Coimbatore.
“With Salem being declared as a defence corridor, the industrial sector is now looking at the possibility of manufacturing parachutes and technical textiles through joint ventures with France and few other countries. But, we couldn’t promote Salem as a defence hub in the international arena due to lack of flight services,” said K Mariappan, president of Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association, Salem.
Even though inquiries are pouring in for manufacture of components in the defence sector, the industrialists rued that without going for technology up-gradation through foreign collaborations, they find it challenging to translate those inquiries into successful business.
“If infrastructure is provided along with flight service, investments worth several millions can be achieved by Salem especially in the defence sector alone. Now, the government is also pushing for establishing mini-textile parks to tap the export market. But, all these could turn fruitful, only if our demand for a flight service from Salem materialises,” he said.
Besides the industrial sector, the people from Salem, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri are also literally starving for want of a flight service. Industrialists have been persuading the private airline carriers to commence operations from Salem. Also, talks are underway for flights from Thiruvananthapuram to Delhi and Mumbai to make a stopover in Salem. Even flights to popular pilgrimage sites like Tirupati and Shirdi are touted to have huge potential.
In addition to passenger flights, the need of the hour is to commence airfreight service to boost trade in this part of the region. Dried out of options, the industries are now dependent on logistic firms to transport goods either by road or through train.
“Perishable goods couldn’t be sent as it takes longer by road and time management makes it risky for exporters. Textiles and anklets from Salem and mango pulp from Dharmapuri are sent in bulk to Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Chennai and Bengaluru. Also, sago, a staple diet of people in north India is manufactured and sent in large volumes from Salem. Introducing air freight services will give a huge push for growth of these sectors,” said N Murugesan, another industrialist.