India’s second industrial rubber park has come up in Bodhungnagar in western Tripura to boost the country’s elastic polymer industry.
The park, a joint venture between the Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC) and the Rubber Board, is the second of its kind in the country after the rubber park in Irapuram, Kerala.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar Friday inaugurated the park, created at a cost of Rs.23 crore at the Bodhungnagar industrial growth centre, 15 km north of Agartala.
Tripura is the second largest natural rubber producer in the country after Kerala.
At least 20 rubber-based industrial projects would be set up in the park in the next few years. “The rubber park was built on an area of about 58 acres of land in the Bodhungnagar industrial growth centre in western Tripura and over Rs.75 crore are expected to be invested in the park over a period of three years,” said TIDC Chairman Pabitra Kar.
“A big rubber product development and display centre and a rubber museum have been set up in the park, which would lead to significant direct employment generation for 1,000 to 1,500 people,” he said.
Tripura is the second largest rubber producer in the country after Kerala with 65,000 hectares of land so far brought under cultivation producing 30,000 tonnes of natural rubber annually.
“The state has a potential to increase the production of rubber to 60,000 tonnes per year after five years,” Kar added.
The products proposed to be manufactured in the rubber park include cycle and two-wheeler tyres and tubes, retreading of old tyres, auto components, flaps, chappals, sports goods, latex foam, coated fabrics, hot water bag, hose, mattresses and pillows, automotive rubber components and rubber threads.
Products from the park, funded by the union commerce ministry under the ASIDE (Assistance to States for Development of Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities) scheme, are expected to meet the needs of northeastern states and neighbouring countries.
“There are over 50,000 rubber and latex-based downstream products that have a huge domestic and international market potential and the park would provide the platform and impetus for the growth of the downstream rubber industry in the country,” said R.C.M. Reddy, chief executive officer of ILFS, an infrastructure and lease finance company.
Industry and Commerce minister Jitendra Chowdhury said Tripura earned Rs.550-Rs.600 crore per annum from the raw rubber and with value addition the income would easily cross Rs.1,500 crore in the next three years.
“Products valued at Rs.400 crore likely to be exported from the rubber park,” he said, adding that the park would be a “land to lab to market” catalyst.
A persistent push to develop large-scale rubber plantations as a livelihood alternative to slash-and-burn cultivation by tribals has resulted in a major economic upswing in the state. And the government’s Rubber Mission seeks to bring 85,074 more hectares under rubber cultivation for ensuring socio-economic and industrial growth.
“The non-traditional rubber plantation zone of northeast is the area where lies the potential for expansion of rubber plantation to avail higher level of production of natural rubber, which had been used as industrial raw materials for almost 50,000 goods,” said a rubber board official.
The Kottayam-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has also identified 450,000 hectares for rubber cultivation in the northeast region.
Of the total 4.5 lakh hectares identified suitable for rubber plantation in different northeastern states, Assam alone has about 2 lakh hectares which could be gainfully put under cultivation followed by Tripura (one lakh hectares).
“Future expansion and growth of natural rubber in India lies in the northeast, which is agro-climatically most suitable for rubber cultivation,” said another rubber board official.
India has 600,000 hectares of rubber plantations producing about 750,000 tonnes of natural rubber annually. (IANS)
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