Having textile and apparel manufacturing hubs Tirupur, Coimbatore, Salem and Erode, Tamil Nadu, which boasts of will see its legislative assembly elections in another 5 months – May 2021 to be precise.
Various political parties have starting playing the blame game with regard to the struggling conditions of apparel industry in the state. MK Stalin, President, DMK, has criticised the Union and State Governments for the same.
He has assured full support to Tirupur to ensure growth of apparel export but this city is lacking many facilities at different levels.
It is to be noted that a target of Rs. one lakh crore has been envisaged for the Tirupur knitwear business by the year 2024. The knitwear city of India can achieve this target but there are many issues which need to be addressed to move ahead on this growth path. These issues are completely in the hands of the State Government and can support the industry in a big way. Leading trade bodies of the industry have shared their demands with the State Government in this regard.
Dr. A. Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), met the State Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and raised various issues like having specific export policies for the state, bringing metro project till Tirupur, having more direct flights from Coimbatore, textile parks, exclusive sewing machinery park and port infrastructure.
On the other hand, the Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) also requested to address the Tirupur knitwear sector’s related issues. E. Palanisamy, Vice President of the TEA shared a representation in this regard. It insisted on housing for labour, capital subsidy, requisition to form commercial taxes division, industry-related infrastructure, etc.
It is pertinent to mention here that Tirupur is India’s biggest hub of knitted garments for export as well as for the domestic market. But few of its very reasonable demands, mentioned below, are pending from many years:
Housing and construction of ESI hospital in Tirupur for labour
The cluster’s driving mantra is: ‘Yesterday’s labour is today’s owner’. Housing for labourers with all decent amenities is needed on a war footing so that they can have clean dwelling units, where they can live as a family and also help the industry in sustaining its growth. The acute shortage of skilled labour is the single major threat to the growth of the apparel industry. One of the important reasons that prevent permanent migration of labourers from their home villages to industrial clusters is the lack of adequate housing and hostel facilities. To overcome this issue, construction of houses/ labour dormitories with all required amenities with the support of Central Government in Tirupur in collaboration with individual units, is a must and needs to be done on a priority basis.
TEA strongly believes that the Government support will directly go to 1,00,000 workers’ families, which fuel the economy of Rs. 10,000 crore in infrastructure. It also helps to thoroughly utilise the existing manufacturing infrastructure up to 200 per cent. At the same time, this housing will reduce the carbon footprint of 3 lakh km of bus transport per day as it takes 3,000 buses with an average of 100 km per bus per day.
Considering the requirements of the Tirupur cluster, it is necessary to construct ESI Hospital at Tirupur, in line with the Government’s initiatives for providing health solution to all at the earliest.
Though many States and Union Governments have changed labour laws, so far Tamil Nadu has the total number of hours of work, including overtime, in any week fixed as 60 hours. As per industry requirement, there should not be any restriction in overtime fixed per quarter also. Considering the seasonality of the export business, this facility can be extended to at least the apparel sector.
Capital subsidy by state
Many leading states, having textile and apparel industry, are permitted to avail the benefits of both State and Central Government’s subsidy schemes regarding capital investment. In case of an entrepreneur investing in sewing machines, one could get the following benefits if the permission is given for availing both subsidies, under State Government – (TN DIC) – 25 per cent and under Central Government – (ATUFS) – 15 per cent. If the State Government allows permission to avail both Governments subsidy schemes, it will help to create a lot of investments in the apparel industry and thereby employment will be generated.
Formation of commercial taxes division
While reconstituting Tirupur Commercial Taxes District, it has been brought under Erode Division, whereas Dharapuram and Kangeyam have been merged with Karur District. Apart from this, Avinashi Circle has been merged with Coimbatore and Udumalai Circle has been merged with Pollachi Commercial Taxes Department. To overcome the difficulties being faced by the assesses in Tirupur District, the industry requires to form a commercial taxes division in Tirupur which will help to resolve the issues in Tirupur itself.
Support to constitute knitwear board
There is no specialised or focused agency at the Government level to look after and handhold the knitwear industry in its pursuit of rapid growth. To effectively carry out various initiatives and projects required in this regard, it is imperative to establish a ‘Knitwear Board’ and function from Tirupur, which can act as a catalyst for the growth of this industrial segment and also across the nation. Knitwear board shall be mandated to accomplish to provide a research wing facilitator which would help for product diversification and facilitate micro and small units to make use of it as a commercially viable factor.
This Knitwear Board should act as a catalyst. The successful Tirupur cluster formula could be well documented based on various case studies and help the industry to spread pan-India level in all labour-rich states; thereby the envisaged knitwear board will ensure the growth of industry at pan-India level, providing millions of jobs to the job seekers and help thousands of sprouting entrepreneurs to start their ventures.
A better 4/6 lane road has to be laid between the clusters like Tirupur and port, connecting industry corridor for easy movement of vehicles to reduce logistics cost. Similarly, industry has requested extension and covering of Tirupur town also under the envisaged Coimbatore Metro Rail project, which will largely help for the development of Tirupur and knitwear industry.
Even the port facilities have to be improved to reduce turnaround time at par with major ports in developed countries since the inspection and clearances are only available on specific working hours of the day.
There is a requirement of cargo terminal in Coimbatore airport with international connectivity which would help for import of accessories and other items to save time and cost. As the power cost is comparatively higher, when the states are depending more on the generation of coal-based power, the subsidy to the power cost can be given at Rs. 2 per unit for 5 years from the date of release of electricity connection for new units.