South Korean automobile giant Kia Motors’ plant is set to transform Anantapur, one of the country’s most backward districts.
The sprawling plant, which has come up over 536 acres of land in Erramanchi village in a span of just 14 months, is changing the landscape of Anantapur, one of the four districts in the backward Rayalaseema region.
In a region with one of the lowest rainfall in the country and once notorious for brutal killings by rival groups fighting for supremacy, the plant, which began trial production on January 30, has come as a breath of fresh air.
Located just 125 km from Bengaluru airport, the plant has come up with an investment of $1 billion dollars while an equal amount pumped in by ancillaries. It is billed as one of the biggest Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in India in the automobile sector.
Kia Motors, the world’s eighth-largest automaker, plans to manufacture 300,000 cars at this plant every year. The commercial production will start after July with SP2i, an SUV based on the Kia SP Concept, first showcased at India’s Auto Expo 2018.
With over 3,000 direct and 7,000 indirect jobs, Kia will become the single largest employer in the drought-prone region. The ancillaries, including 18 South Korean companies, are expected to provide an additional 5,000 jobs.
Officials say the Korean township and other supporting infrastructure would generate more employment for locals.
The Kia plant houses a five-acre training facility that offers a Basic Technical Course (BTC) in automobiles in collaboration with the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corp (APSSDC), helping develop manufacturing skills among young people, 400 of whom have been selected in the first batch.
“The plant is a great boon for the region in terms of employment, investment and in terms of creating confidence among young people. People used to say that since the region is not endowed with resources, there can’t be development here but it has great human resources which need to be trained properly,” K. Lakshminarayana, Director, APSSDC.
He pointed out that APSKDC helping Kia in getting the students recruited and trained in Siemens Centre of Excellence at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Anantapur. Siemens Centre of Excellence has 14 labs to train students in emerging technologies.
With a Korean township, hostels and hotels coming up in the area, students are also learning Korean and other foreign languages. The Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur, is providing a Korean language course, while the Rayalaseema Development Trust is also training local youth in foreign languages, including Korean and French.
Officials believe the eco-system will also give a fillip to micro, small and medium enterprise and turn Rayalaseema often termed as ‘Ralla Seema’ or land of stones due to recurrent droughts into ‘Ratnala Seema’ or land of diamonds.