Interview with DS Agarwal

DS Agarwal
DS Agarwal

The textiles industry has a lot of catching up to do
An ISO 9001:2008 certified organisation, the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI)-the oldest apex trade body in Surat-is committed to the development of micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the industry. Established in 1940, it focuses on the growth and development of trade and industry of Southern Gujarat region from Bharuch to Vapi and Umargaon towards Mumbai. With a strong base of more than 7,500 direct members, over 100 associations and indirect membership of more than approximately 65,000, SGCCI represents views of trade and industry to various levels of government, promotes businesses through quality systems and linkages, institutes recognition schemes for individuals and companies to promote excellence, and helps upgrade technical knowhow through various seminars, conferences and workshops. Fibre2Fashion in a tête-à-tête with SGCCI President DS Agarwal.

Why has Surat not yet been able to claim its rightful place in the business of textiles?

The consumption of synthetic fabrics is high all over the world in comparison to cotton fabrics. The export markets require synthetic fabrics in large quantities which, we in Surat, are not able to provide. Hence, we have decided to make a textile cluster and invite large weaving and processing units to compete and cater to export markets. We have received consent from the government to provide us a 50 lakh acre plot of land to build a state-of-the-art cluster. We expect to receive the land within one year. Here, we will employ special purposevehicles (SPV) to invite processing units, and cater to their major requirements. The cost of the land there is ₹35 per square metre. We have appealed to the government to reduce these rates so that big units can come and start manufacturing in the cluster. The cost of the land around the city is ₹10,000 per square metre. The cluster will have a common boiler that supplies steam to all units, provisions will be made for cheaper electricity, soft water, treatment of effluents, etc. Foreign investors and investors from other states of India too have shown interest in establishing units.

What are your other plans for this year?

For this year and for all trade and industries in this region, which pre-dominantly include textiles, we want to expand through forward and backward integration. As of now, textile and fabrics are manufactured the most; we want to move ahead into garment manufacturing. Until now we were manufacturing just synthetic fabrics; we would like to diversify into making cotton fabrics too.

What is the size of the textile industry and diamond industry in Surat?

There are about 6 lakh powerlooms, around one lakh embroidery machines, 50,000 waterjet and rapier looms in Surat. The export of diamond constitutes around 2 lakh crore per annum. Almost 80-90 per cent of the world's diamonds get cut and polished here. The export of synthetic fabrics is ₹20,000 crore. The textiles industry here has a lot of catching up to do.

What else is SGCCI trying to do for the business of textiles?

We had a meeting with textile machinery units in Surat to identify why we have so far failed to make machines that we import from China. We are trying to understand the kind of issues they are facing. There are just 40-50 machinery units. We plan to establish a cell for skill development by designing a curriculum and provide on-the-job training. We have also arranged for a programme for creating garments with zero-defects by providing technical training. We invite experts for disseminating information on the latest technologies. We have been organising an exhibition called Udyog since 1998, and have created a world class convention centre. We were the first to showcase the latest embroidery machines. We have also established a global fabric research and resource centre, where we invite weavers and exporters, through which weavers have received orders. We also curate samples of fabrics from all around the world. For textile workers, we have conducted medical and health camps.

What is SGCCI doing towards the call for 'Make in India'?

The textiles sector is a huge contributor towards the 'Make in India' campaign. The people of Surat are very enterprising and the region has huge potential. The growth of trade and industry has led to migration of workers from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. We are trying to create better infrastructure. We are also working towards improving air connectivity so as to build the industrial infrastructure under SMART Surat.

What kind of support does SGCCI need from the government in developing the textiles industry?

Silvassa, close to Surat, is a tax-free zone and has cheaper electricity than Surat. Hence, many powerloom units have shifted their base there. Surat needs such facilities to promote industry.
Published on: 22/08/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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