A large section of media wrote and spoke about Vedanta-Foxconn setting up their semiconductor and display manufacturing plant in Dholera, Gujarat on 20 Feb 23. Whether one takes the cue from Robert Kaplan’s “The Revenge of Geography” or it is history repeating itself, Dholera is poised to be the chip manufacturing powerhouse of the future.
Going back in time, Dholera was an ancient port city, strategically located at the heart of Gulf of Khambhat. The Gulf of Khambhat encompasses a large part of the Eastern Saurashtra coast and has preserved the remains of the oldest civilization of the subcontinent. This famous Harappan port town at Lothal is situated at the head of the Gulf of Khambhat. Historical period remains have been discovered at Vallabhi on the western coast and Hathab on the southwestern coast of the Gulf as well. This exceptional connectivity of Dholera to port towns through well-laid-out land routes presumably made it a center of globalisation, which resulted in this being a trade hub of the ancient past.
Dholera is India’s first platinum-rated greenfield smart city and is an integral part of 32 smart city projects in the ambitious National Industrial Corridor Development. The site is now earmarked as the home of a roughly Rs. 1.64 lakh crore ($20 billion) semiconductor fabrication plant to be built by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Technology Group, also known as Foxconn, in a tie-up with Indian-focused commodities powerhouse Vedanta
Setting up greenfield fabrication facilities essentially encompass connectivity, seamless energy availability, reliable and qualitative water, import/export metrics and a dedicated workforce with a less turnaround as primary ecosystem enablers. These ecosystem enablers are the very basis of setting up these high-technology, high-maintenance, zero-error, capital intensive fabrication facilities. In terms of connectivity, Dholera will have an integral airport capable of handling cargo in addition to Ahmedabad and Vadodra airports in vicinity. The location is in proximity to Pipavav, Mundhra, Kandla and Bhavnagar Sea ports to cater for supply chain aspects to cater for sea port accessibility. Over the land route, it possesses an inherent proximity to the western freight corridor. An integral broad gauge rail connectivity with Ahmedabad-Dholera expressway under construction having a blueprint of futuristic alignment will add to the advantage. In terms of power, it caters for a reliable power supply with inbuilt redundancies and presence of two DisComs with nearly 40 percent less tariff than other cities. Torrent power
Availability of power from the western grid makes it ideal for future expansion of this industry. Water has been factored in the overall dynamics with a hundred percent recycling of waste water. Water has been lifted from river Narmada in a manner that it’s availability and quality with 100 MLD commitment is maintained at all times as fabrication facilities are water intensive. It will boast of a state-of-the-art effluent treatment infrastructure, sewage treatment plants, two mass balancing reservoirs with 20 ML capacity and nine elevated service reservoirs with a 19 ML capacity each. The notable features of Dholera include green spaces, commercial spaces, ICT based control center and availability of residential area for the working capital. Dholera, with a huge land parcel of 920 square kilometers promises to be a world-class destination and is expected to be fully developed by 2030. The city will not only provide thrust to the country’s industrial output, but is likely to create more than 8 lakh jobs.
This special investment region is intrinsically designed to factor storm water drains, all utility connectivity laid underground, smart monitoring of traffic, sensor-based eradication of power and zero water wastage. On visiting the location and witnessing the present development, it is a copybook plug and play connectivity, as conceived wholistically in addition to single window redressal to mitigate third party interferences using stated G2B interactions. All this gives Dholera a distinct advantage for chip manufacturing in the future.
India is a shining beacon of digital revolution today. In consonance to present geopolitics, the most advanced chip makers will eventually consider shifting of advanced facilities to India. The manufacturing processes will be a reality in the next two to three years with a large market, likely to grow manifold with a large appetite for semiconductors. Noteworthy policy interventions by the government to include Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to attract global players, smart infrastructure creating ability and talent will add to the advantage. Such well thought of facilities being geographically well located will not only seamlessly integrate into global supply chains but also display an unprecedented export potential. While all of this is a work in progress, Dholera surely displays the potential to be the fulcrum of digital civilisation of the future.
Written by Anurag Awasthi, Vice President of IESA, India Electronic and Semiconductor Association.