Coir cluster development project to generate 23,000 jobs

Kochi: The Rs56.8-crore ''coir cluster development project'', jointly initiated by Coir Board and Kerala government, in Alappuzha, under the ''industrial infrastructure upgradation scheme'' of the central government is expected to generate employment of nearly 23,000 directly in the cluster.

This is in addition to the several lakh currently employed in the Alappuzha district through coir related activities. The scheme, aimed at the development of infrastructure in the coir sector, has to be completed in 18 months starting from January 2005. This is the first such cluster under Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme in Kerala.

The scheme will address major issues concerning the coir sector like lack of proper pollution control equipment, marketing, raw material facilities etc, according to Coir Board chairman C.Chandran, who handed over a draft of Rs14.2 crore as the first instalment of the funds to the Alappuzha Coir Cluster Development Society''s president Mathew Joseph and vice-president M P Pavithran .

The board will closely monitor the activities of the society, which is a special purpose vehicle formed as per the scheme, in implementation of the project and will provide technological assistance and infrastructure support to the society. The funds will be used mainly for constructing common effluent treatment facility, marketing centre, dyeing and bleaching unit and for improvement of ''ratts'' and looms and defibreing machines.

Out of the total outlay, 75 per cent, which comes to Rs42.6 crore will be available as grant. While 10 per cent has to be brought as equity and another 15 per cent by loan by the members.

There are at present around 250 exporters of coir and coir products and 10,000 small-scale coir manufacturers in the Alappuzha district who will benefit from the scheme. The common facility centres will be allowed to be used by the coir exporters and manufacturers for a fee. Under the scheme, the society has to show profit in five years.