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Sri Ciy - A ‘SMART’ CITY
Remember the Rajni starrer Shivaji the Boss movie, where the hero returns from the US to transform villages to centres buzzing with economic activity? Similar is the story of Ravindra Sannareddy, creating the Sri City.

AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Pepsico CEO Indira Nooyi jointly inaugurated on 03 April a large mango pulp processing facility at Sri City. Nooyi described this as the largest Pepsico manufacturing facility and the first of its kind  set up in 14 years. The first production line has been commissioned at the 86 acre site. Ultimately, the plant will have nine such lines. The Pepsico plant will be the hub for processing mango from around 32,000 farmers.

Nooyi  is among the top women business leaders of the world. Her imprint is clear: nearly a fourth of the workforce at the Sri City plant will be women. More importantly, seven out of nine in the management team are women.

Andhra and Tamil Nadu are large producers of mango, but lack such a sophisticated processing facility. The Pepsico’s plant ultimately plans an investment of a Rs 1200 crore.

Not just Pepsico. Five other large food companies including the giant Mondel and Kellogg’s are setting up production facilities in the food cluster at Sri City.

 

SEZs that triggered the local economy

Sri City, just across Tamil Nadu’s border along the grand northern trunk road connecting Chennai and Kolkata, is the brain child of Ravindra Sannareddy (RSR). RSR headed Megasoft, a flourishing IT software company headquartered in the US and operated in over 15 countries. Post 9/11, RSR shifted to India with family. Joining hands with the industrialist Srini Raju, he conceived a special economic zone that would also have rich facilities as a domestic tariff area.

Listen to RSR who had a ring side view of the development of this concept in the US and was subsequently expanded by China: “till the 1960s the vast area between the district of Columbia and Maryland was farm land. A large industrial area was developed between Washington DC and Baltimore. Fully developed, it emerged as a throbbing industrial area. Such development took place in China with remarkable speed in the 1990s, near large urban centre like Shenzhen near Hong Kong.”

RSR pointed to the huge demand for land for industrial development. The initial SEZ development was hijacked by IT companies. With cost of land in urban centres soaring, there was the imperative to move away from the Chennai metro. Tada town near his home town where land prices were much cheaper, lent for such cluster.

RSR mobilised the needed capital from his NRI friends and others. When the project was in the crucial final phase of clearance, there was some uncertainty. RSR referred to the visit of then Commerce Secretary G K Pillai. Interactions with the local community and assessment of the potential for development convinced Pillai to help clear the project. RSR points to their project getting cleared at the height of the 2008 global financial crisis.

RSR said spectacular development of Hosur in Tamil Nadu across the Karnataka border is a good model. Tada has the potential to be developed in quick time as a strong manufacturing hub. Just across the state border near the Chennai Metro.

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