Living London, Loving Chennai

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

TN Cities - Coimbatore (Kovai)

Coimbatore (Kovai for short) is the second largest city / Metro in Tamil Nadu. A city with 1.5 million population, it is also one of the faster growing cities in TN. The name Coimbatore always conjures up images of textile mills and industries in my mind. It is also one city that looks urban/cityish after Chennai in TN. It is not a city assosciated much with Tamil / Tamilnadu (Politically). Inspite of it being the second most important city economically and commercially, it is a relatively political lightweight, maybe because it is situated in one corner of TN.

Unlike Madurai, Trichy or Thanjavur, Kovai does not have much history behind it. It is a relatively new city which came into prominence because of the entrepreneurial nature of its citizens ably helped by the various hydel power projects in neighboring Nilgiris district. Kovai is the centre for Textile and textile machinery, foundries, auto components,wet grinders, pumps and many small scale engineering units. The industrial output from Coimbatore is said to be over 10,000 crores* annually. Much, if not all of this development should be attributed to the local people and a few visionaries as this growth was achieved purely by the them with very little governmental support (in terms of PSU or institutions) or any large scale factory.

Kovai is also poised to enter the IT map as a second tier city in TN. With a pleasant climate and a huge manpower availability in its catchment area, it has everything going for it to become a major player in IT. Unfortunately so far, there's been no real catalyst for growth here. Recently CTS has entered the city in a small way with TCS and Wipro likely to join soon. Hopefully, this will kickstart the industry here and help Kovai retains its second place in TN economy.

Kovai is also an affluent place. It matches Chennai per capita in consumtion of most consumer items including luxury cars and cellphones. The real estate costs are highest after Chennai. Coimbatore was talked of as the next Pune/Hyderabad in the early nineties, but for the serial bomb blasts, it might have happened. That incident pushed the growth down, affected the morale and subdued this growing city. It has largely returned to normal and just needs a spark to come back to the growth trajectory. IMHO, an IT park like Tidel is what the city needs now.

There's not much for a tourist in the city. It just acts as a wayside stop for the tourists going towards Ooty, Valpari etc. A couple of temples - Perur and Maruthamalai are the major highlights here, but the city is sorrounded by a lot of important tourist spots that can be reached in an hour or two. Ooty (Nilgiris), Valparai, as mentioned earlier, APA, Siruvani and Malampuzha dams, IndiraGandhi WIld life sanctuary, Black Thunder water park are some the more famous ones.

Some of my suggestions for improving the city would be to
  • Plan for a metro/mass transit railway system now itself
  • A CMDA like authority for Kovai.
  • A comprehensive urbanisation plan that includes the sorrounding cities like Tiruppur, Pollachi, Mettupalayam with freeway / GQ like highways linking the towns
  • Promote IT in a big way. Build Tidel sized park even if not sure whether people will come. Like in China, they will come when you give them facilities
  • A lot more highrises
  • A bigger airport
  • The city needs a landmark like Meenakshi temple in Madurai or Rockfort in Trichy that can be identified with the city. Somebody build something soon.
Personally, I have spent maybe 4-5 days in Kovai and liked the place a lot. This was the first place, outside Chennai, I had visited on my own and that seems to have given me a sort of sentimental attachment to the city. I do wish to see that the city becomes an important centre not only in TN but in whole of India too.

Routine and more information about the city can be had from
wikipedia and other Google searches.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good article covering major aspects... The blogger is well informed and has a good exposure... But in a few statements he said "after chennai"... Well, I'm living in Chennai and got to say Coimbatore has a lot bigger potential than any city in India- no exaggeration, here are some facts...

* Coimbatore has overtaken Mumbai in textile production and has become the Manchester of India(Not just South India)
* TCS has already set up a small centre
* 40% of the software engineers and BPO executives working in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad are graduates from Coimbatore
* Frontline rated it as the most liveable city in India
* The real estate price in the city has grown by 300% in the last 2 years in most areas
* Price per sq.ft near Nilgris in Avinashi Road is Rs.4100, almost matching the metros
* 42% of total auto components manufactured in India are sourced from here
* 60% of total wet grinder production of the country is here
* More than 70% of pump production of the country is done here
* Highest literacy rat (94%) among cities with population of 1.5 million or more
* Mumbai based E-city entertainment are about to construct an enviable multiplex- The Fun Republic in Peelamedu, a multiplex which is supposed to be better than an I-nox or a PVR
* Maharaja group is gonna build a shopping mall of 15 lakh sq.ft (Spencer Plaza - 10 lakh sq.ft)
which includes a 7 screen multiplex and an office lobby
* It is the RACING CAPITAL OF INDIA with almost a monopoly domination in Indian motorsports

All said and done, the city does have some weaknesses,
* You cant expect any government recognition from centre or state
* The infrastructure is not good enough to handle an IT boom

But you have to develop cities like CBE to compete with the lights of China...

Watchout for the Auto Show in CODISSIA from April 29 to May 1

7:41 PM  
Blogger SLN said...

Mr Sudarshan,

Your list is pretty comprehensive. I do agree that Kovai is a city with huge potential. We have to wait and see how much of it gets fulfilled. Also, the difference between Chennai and Kovai in terms of Population and economy is too vast (1:4 or 1:5) to be bridged so easily. I doubt Kovai will be in the same league as Chennai in our lifetime.

Thanks for your visit and comments


10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in Coimbatore. I was able to take advantage of the well established educational institutions which gave me a good launching pad for my career. I now live is the US but I constantly think of my home town - and I am deeply troubled. Everytime and go back for a visit, I see the infrastructure in that city worsen. The city is a bench mark for bad roads. It still has open sewage and is very very dusty and dirty. Population is this city is actually going down. Most of my classmates, all natively born and raised, have migrated to other places, mostly to Chennai.

I really wish this city well in the future. The main problem right now is the irresponsible behaviour of the city officials. The collector will definitely feature amoung the top 5 corrupt officials in the country. It is hard to believe how easily they can ruin this city. This city has no hope of becoming like Chennai unless someone stands up and speaks out. They desparately need roads and sewage systems.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My home town is Coimbatore.
Climate conditions , Food & water facilities and other general needs in CBE is very good than compared to any other cities . Currently i was working in Chennai in an IT based company.

Like CTS , we need few IT giants ( TCS, IBM , WIPRO, HCL , Infosys, ….) to start there projects in CBE, since its very cost effective than any other cities, Man power is more , & it will be a Best Shore for any IT companies to support there clients .

Its an major city in India providing most of the educated peoples , and government must take good effective steps to bring this city to a well placed centre for India in all fields.

Few weeks back when I visited , few roadwork on process throughout the city ... with hope , in coming days ..we people of CBE love to see our city as like of Chennai & Bangalore.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was Born and Brought up in Coimbatore. Though Coimbatore have Potential to develop the none of the Politicians are intrested in city's development. It has developed with the help of private organizations. Government have to take action in terms of Railways(now all the trains from cbe is extended to Kerla, i strongly oppose this). We need more Software giants like Wipro, Infosys, HCL etc.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born n brought up in Coimbatore,now working in Chennai.
Climate is good, people are kind, roads are cleaner compared to other cities in TN.
Recently they have been cutting down trees in Avinashi Road for expanding the roads to manage traffic and since the IT park may be opened by the end of this year.
This cutting down trees may start small n lead to similar events in many places, before it could happen leading climate changes in cbe, it would be better if they planted trees some where in the near by area for every tree that cut.
Its impossible to stop cutting trees when govt want to expand roads to manage traffic but planting can be done. Cbe has a good climate, it would be nice if we maintained the reputation. Organisations like Siruthuli can come up with some ideas too and implement it.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Bala said...

Thanks for sahring

Travel from Chennai-Coimbatore

5:11 PM  
Blogger DENESH HUMAR said...

Coimbatore an amazing place to live, i was born here and also brought up in d same city,
i bet nothing matches this city , all we need is some responsible citizens who doesn migrate to other cities, a city whith hight potential must no loose its human resources, top most institutions under anna univ are in cbe , these statistic says coimbatore is best for graduation, so ppl think abt ur hmetown , be an example to other, learn and gain knowledge from any corner of the world but try using it in this city!!!

11:03 PM  

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