During his tenure at the helm of the industry department for close to three years Sankar helped formulate the state’s new industrial policy, the auto components policy and the biotechnology policy. His tenure also witnessed the inauguration of the Tidel Park 2 in Chennai and commencing work on Tidel Park 3 at Coimbatore and the opening of TICEL Life Sciences in Chennai metro.
Sankar referred to the construction of a sophisticated paperboards plant of Tamilnadu Newsprint and Paper Ltd at Mondipatti near Tiruchi in just 22 months as among the major landmarks of his tenure. He pointed to the involvement of several large corporations like the International paper giant Voith, Shapoorji Pallonji, L&T... in the construction of the Rs. 2000 crore, 200,000-tonne plant. Added to another 400,000 tonnes of printing paper capacity already, TNPL has emerged among the largest paper producers in the country.
The capacity of the Tamil Nadu Cements’ Ariyalur plant, being expanded from 0.5 mn tonnes to 1.5 mn tonnes at a cost of Rs. 750 crore is another significant landmark. Tamil Nadu Salt Corporation expanded through a salt refinery, washery, and packing unit and has emerged profitable.
Sankar pointed to the TIDEL Park at Coimbatore constructed at a cost of Rs. 400 crore that suffered the problem of under-occupancy having now turned around and earned profit during 2015-16.
Sankar has reason to feel happy: usually, the industry department used to take comfort over industrial units in the private sector performing well; here some public sector units of the state government have been making profits! Another landmark during his tenure has been the Aerospace Park developed between Sriperumbudur and Oragadam, over 250 acres, becoming operational. “TIDCO has set up an advanced computer centre at this park. 14 companies have already been allotted over 60 acres of land,” said Sankar.
GIM, the crowning piece...
The ultimate piece of Sankar’s stint was the successful conduct of the state’s first Global Investors Meet (GIM) organised in September 2015. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa-led the effort from the front. GIM attracted business leaders from across the globe and India. I remember the meticulous planning and the detailed presentations made by Sankar and the team of senior ministers and officials at several metros across the world. Ninety-eight MoUs were signed with investments committed of Rs. 240,000 crore. Sankar expressed satisfaction that 64 of these have taken off and are under various stages of implementation. A few of these are already under production. The large participation from countries and companies from across the globe and the ability of the state to showcase its achievement on its particular strengths to attract investments won wide acclaim. Gratified over the success, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister announced holding such meets as regular bi-annual events. Work on GIM 2017 has already commenced!
Two more prestigious projects – of Delta Corporation, Ford
Sankar made special reference to two prestigious projects: one Taiwan’s computer giant Delta Corporation setting up a Rs. 4000 crore project in Krishnagiri District to manufacture a vast range of sophisticated electronic components for cell phones. The other is the Ford Global Technology and Business Centre to be set up over 28 acres at an estimated investment of Rs. 400 crore with potential for employing around 2000 located at Sholinganallur. This is considered to be the largest product development centre of Ford Motors outside the US, with comfortable facilities for design, research and development.
A reasonably long tenure as the head of the industry department and entrusting these to an officer of the IAS with the rank of Chief Secretary enjoying the trust and confidence of the political leadership, have been at the base of the industrial department recording spectacular growth in several directions in recent years. Sankar has been accessible, professional in his approach, participating in very many public functions and effectively projected and articulated the strengths of Tamil Nadu.
One looks forward to his very considerable record of service utilised more.