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India - Jadavpur Universit aid for Howrah foundry industry

KOLKATA: The foundry industry of Howrah is all set to make a turnaround with Jadavpur University's Research, Development and Innovation Centre for Foundry Cluster in Howrah coming forward to help them in attaining better productivity and superior energy management. The principal scientific adviser to the government of India, Dr R Chidambaram, inaugurated the centre on Friday.

"A university researches while an industry delivers. Both can play a complimentary role for each other. This centre would be an ideal platform for the industry-university interface. Unless that happens, there is every chance that the industry gets stuck in the beaten track and the research organization gets away from the ground reality," said Dr Chidambaram, an eminent scientist and chairman of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC). The council has funded the centre in a major way.

The Howrah foundry cluster was the first organized modern industrial cluster in India. It was set up in British days, when Kolkata became the political and commercial capital. The history of the foundry cluster, along with the jute industry, is synonymous with the rise of British mercantile colonialism in India. The cluster used to be considered the Sheffield of India.

"But over the ages, the industry started lagging, thanks to outdated technology, energy inefficiency and an old-fashioned mindset. Now, their products are completely rejected in Europe for not complying with the requisite standard of Euro countries. But this would change as we help them in complying with the standard. Secondly, it takes the industry months just to design the model for production. Through computer-aided design (CAD) and computer aided mechanism (CAM), we will develop the model for them too," said Professor P K Bose, director of NIT, Silchar and Agartala, and former director of School of Automobile Engineering, JU.

Abundant raw material and cheap and skilled manpower further strengthens the case of the cluster. Moreover, 36% of the country's installed capacity (foundry units) comes from Bengal. There are about 280 units in the Howrah Foundry cluster, which has a turnover of more than Rs 1,500 crore and exports of more than Rs 600 crore. Indian Foundry Association is the apex body of foundry associations in Bengal.

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