India’s first Rubber Park at Irapuram, opened on an experimental basis in Kerala, the home of Indian rubber, has over the years proved to be a big success with all the units working fairly well. The Park has shown how viably can various types of rubber industry units operate under a common infrastructure. In an interview to Rubber Asia, the Park’s dynamic Managing Director J Krishnakumar speaks out on the success of the Park and the scope for setting up more such Parks in the State. Excerpts:

Rubber Park, Irapuram (Kerala), has turned out to be a success within a short period. What is your assessment of the Park’s performance?

The first unit in the Irapuram Park commenced production in the year 2003. Now all the plots are allotted and 35 units are in operation. We are happy that the performance of the Park is quite good.
All the units established in the Park are working satisfactorily. None of the units has been closed so far. Yes, the Rubber Park, a joint initiative of the Rubber Board and Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA), has turned out to be a pioneering success.

Do you advocate setting up more of such Parks in the State?

The second Park is proposed, in 16.18 ha of land in Kollam District. The Company has got the first instalment of Rs.55 million from the sanctioned assistance of Rs.167 million under Assistance to State for Development of Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities (ASIDE) Scheme. The foundation stone of the Park was laid in 2013. However, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forest has declared the proposed land at Piranvanthoor in Pathanapuram taluk, Kollam, as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).We are expecting relaxation of rules by India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The project will be commenced immediately. There are also proposal to start more Rubber Parks at Kottayam, Pathanamthitta etc.
Meanwhile, there is scope for setting up industrial clusters within rubber estates having a minimum area of 500 acres. This will go a long way in promoting rubber-based industries in the State. However rules need to be relaxed for facilitating this.
What are the challenges being faced by the Park? Also please tell us what are the prospects and opportunities ahead
Due to lack of additional area available contiguous to the existing Park, area expansion to accommodate more industrial units is the big challenge at present. Presently, all the available areas are allotted to industrial units. The Company is in the process of taking over possession of the un-utilized plots of land allotted to the industrial units in the Park and allotting them to new entrepreneurs.
In this manner we are expecting some 20 acres of land for allocation. This area is ideal for carbon black units. However, we are open to allot the same for any units on a first-come, first-served basis.

Are the units functioning in the Park satisfied about the infrastructural support given by you? Are they facing any problems in terms of power/water supply etc.?

The entire industrialists in the Park are happy with the infrastructure provided by the Park authorities. The Company has the license for distribution of electric energy inside the Park, with own 110/11 kV – 25 MVA capacity substation and ring main distribution net work. We are happy to note that there has been almost zero hour lost due to interruptions in power supply. Since the location of the Irapuram Park is near to the Periyar Valley Canals, water is available without any scarcity, the Company has developed a 3mld water distribution system and a massive rain water harvesting facility of 25 million litres.
The Company had established a testing & certification (R&D) facility – JJ Murphy Research Centre (JJMRC) — at the Park at a cost of Rs 30 million for testing & certification of any Rubber / Polymer products. The industries inside the Park can easily access the facility and they can test their compounds/products on a daily basis so that they can assure/improve the quality of their products. This will certainly improve their competitiveness in the market.

Do you welcome the plans of the Rubber Board and KSIDC to set up a Rubber Industry Incubation Centre at RRII. Do you foresee areas of cooperation between the JJMRC and the proposed Incubation Centre?

We are very happy with the association of Rubber Board and KSIDC to start Rubber Industry Incubation Centre at RRII. Surely, we will also cooperate with the Incubation Centre.

What are the measures taken by you to check environmental pollution from the units?

The company has constructed a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) for the treatment of effluents from the industrial units inside the Park. The capacity of the present plant is 250 Cu. M. The Company had taken steps for the augmentation of the treatment capacity to 500 Cu. M by adding another unit of 250 Cu. M. Specific conditions are incorporated in the lease deeds regarding the pollution control measures to be taken by the industrial units.