KINFRA International Apparel Park, Thumba
From mass employment to fashion design course to futuristic industries, the Apparel Park is a real trend-setter.
When Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) conceived the Kerala International Apparel Park (KIAP), the idea it had in mind was simple and noble: to provide regular employment to the fisherwoman who lost their livelihoods when the fish processing industry suffered a reverse. It has more than surpassed that idea and has now become a centre that has revitalised the local economy: today it hosts garment manufacturing units that employs women in thousands and high technology companies that make products ranging from heart valves to solar lamps. Moreover, it trains fashion designers and technologists who now command a premium in the market.
Many pioneering companies that took the name of Kerala beyond the shores have anchored at the Park. And the transformation that visited the sleepy seaside village of Thumpa in Thiruvananthapuram was dramatic by all accounts.
Let first things be first. The park today hosts garments manufacturing units by the Bombay Rayons Fashion Limited, which employs more than 2500 people at its facility. Most of its employees are the womenfolk from the nearby villages though there is representation from almost all districts of the State. They have very little exposure to formal education, but the job at the garment manufacturing units has helped many to make the ends meet. The company provides subsidised transportation to the women employees who commute every day while the hostel can accommodate up to 800 people.
A product of the KINFRA vision to move up the value chain, the ATDC produces more than 300 professionals every year, who are fashion designers and textile technologists. It has equipment and machines that are comparable with the best ones fashion institutes in the country can boast of. Its design studio, manned by alumnus of prestigious institutes, helps the creative geniuses to experiment and succeed. Apart from full-time students, the centre also trains candidates sent in by local self governments and self-help groups. Companies from both inside and out of Kerala pick up the designers from ATDC, which today counts among the best design institutes in the country.
If ATDC marks the coming of age of a facility that originally limited its mandate to find livelihood for a displaced group pf people, Ammini Solar, a solar lamp manufacturing unit at the Park marks its entry into futuristic products. K G Madhu, a pioneering entrepreneur in green technology, says the Park helped his establish his award winning solar lamp manufacturing unit. His unit may not be using cutting edge technologies but the products are much in demand. Madhu, who has worn the best entrepreneur award of the State government in 2010, says the Park has created a congenial environment for his unit to thrive, especially in its formative years.
The heart valve manufacturing unit of TTK Healthcare is the technological face of the park. Its heart valves, which come at a fraction of the price at which it is available in the international market, is sold all across India and are even been exported. The company has successfully completed process standardisation programme. The unit is the only heart valve manufacturing unit in India. It has got the technology from Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Science and Technology. The unit, which was formerly located in Chennai, moved to the park as “KINFRA offered us some of the best facilities here,” said Mr K Sunil, Senior Vice President, Heart Valve Division, TTK Health Care. The company has already tied up with SCTIMST for the manufacture of second generation heart valves. The unit, and the Park which has facilitated it, can justifiably be proud of its achievement: reputed journals have certified the valves the TTK healthcare unit manufactures at par with the best available in the international market. The facility is also one of the best examples of industry-academia tie-up. “we give the valves at a subsidized prize for government-sponsored schemes,” said Mr Sunil. The company has helped India to become an exclusive group of six companies to make heart valves.
The animal and clinical trials of the next generation valves are over and the company now awaits the final clearing to go in for commercial production.
The eco-friendly park has an effluent treatment plant and facilities for hazardous waste disposal.The ladies hostel, built with Central aid, can host up to 800 employees who work in the various units in the park.