Kerala may land Japan ancillary unit with high-speed rail

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: May 23 2012, 10:12am hrs
Kerala, counting on debt funding by Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to feed 80% of its proposed R1.18-lakh-crore high-speed rail corridor project, is likely to corner some Japanese industrial investment too, as if in bonus.

A business team, led by Japanese diplomatic officials, has been in talks with state industry officials on a project for manufacturing advanced technology components for high-speed trains.

Shinya Fuji, director-general, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETO), and Masanori Nakano, Consul-General, Japanese Embassy, who met chief minister Oommen Chandy, said the businessmen in Japan would be keen on setting up an export base for advanced technology components for high-speed trains in India and as the first state in the high-speed train foray, Kerala was a big candidate. "For Japanese business, the most favoured area of investment would be food processing industry," Shinya Fuji told FE.

Companies like Mitsubishi Corporation and Nitta Gelatin already had deep-rooted equity and interest in fisheries and gelatin exports from Kerala for nearly two decades. "At the same time, if there was a worthwhile project to create an advanced technology rail component manufacturing base and export hub, the business community in Japan would be open to further discussion. It was heartening to find an active business atmosphere unfolding, close to a port city," Shinya Fuji said.

The Kerala government is readying a feasibiliy report on this project in its forthcoming investment conclave "Emerging Kerala" in September in Kochi. "It is obvious that when the high-speed rail infrastructure business hots up in the south Asian region, there would be rapid demand for advanced technology components for high-speed trains," says T Balakrishnan, CMD, Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation.

The project would be showcased at the "Emerging Kerala " business conclave, to attract FDI to the state. Logistics, the key theme of the seminar preceding the Conclave, will have 600 participants from worldwide, according to Kerala State Industry Development Corporation that anchors the mega investment meet.

The Centre-Kerala JV project of rail corridor, expects to have its R40,000-crore first phase complete by 2018.