Coimbatore is the second largest city of Tamil Nadu.  It has a population in excess of twenty hundred thousand people within the city limits, and over thirty five hundred thousand people if one counts the suburbs in addition. 

What is most interesting is that the entire development of the city is largely driven by the service sector, and the city keeps on developing in all the four directions.  

The main contributor of this growth, in the past decade in particular, is the massive growth of engineering colleges in each of the suburbs, most of them over twenty or more kilometers from the heart of the city, called the Gandhipuram area.  This area is the commercial district of the city, and keeps on developing with every single day.  Thee are textile shops, jewelry shops,hotels, shops selling electrical goods and so on.

As if to bring the same facilities to every corner of the city, what has happened in the Capital city of Chennai, is now being replicated in Coimbatore as well.  However, in the case of Chennai, there are several Information Technology parks in each suburb, and these provide employment to thousands of people, who settle down in residential townships near the place of employment.  For example, the Mahindra Industrial Park, at Chengelput, some sixty kilometers from the city of Chennai, houses several IT companies and manufacturing companies, and the suburb of Guduvanchery, where a 2400 residential plot was available for just fifty thousand rupees, is now selling at over fifty hundred thousand rupees. 

In Coimbatore, there is one IT park, which does provide employment to some thousands, but unfortunately, the engineering graduates of the city are found wanting in both written and spoken English, and this has happened because the city attracts the rural students from the Southern districts of Madurai, Virudhunagar, Kanyakumari, and so on.  

Nevertheless, the parents spend a lot for the education of the children, and most students stay in the hostels.  However, there is one very interesting development taking place.

A huge number of students -- both boys and girls -- get fed up with the quality of food and the accommodation in the hostels.  This has given rise to another flourishing industry -- individual houses and apartments in the vicinity of each of the colleges.  For instance, the house owners collect one thousand rupees from each student, for a shared accommodation (three students stay in one room) and a number of small "messes" provide vegetarian and non-vegetarian food at much cheaper prices.

The combined cost of both the food and accommodation is just around three thousand rupees, thus saving  two or three thousand rupees every month.  Worse, the colleges collect one year's fees of sixty  thousand rupees for the entire year upfront, and there is no reduction during the long holidays for Diwali or the Pongal ( a very important Tamil festival) festival, and during the summer vacation as well.

So, the dissatisfaction with the food and accommodation is enough to develop an entire area.  For example, there are some six colleges of engineering within a radius of just two kilometers, some ten kilometers from the heart of a well-developed suburb called Saravanampatti. 

What was available for just under two hundred thousand rupees some twelve years ago, is now selling at over thirty hundred thousand rupees for a 2400 square foot plot, in each of the localities, thanks tot he development of housing colonies in the vicinity of the colleges.  

The city keeps developing in places as far as thirty kilometers away from the city, thanks to the development of the colleges of engineering. The colleges bring in the middle-class restaurants, the courier service fellows, the schools for education of the children of the teachers.  In come the very small hotels, the plumbers, the electricians, the motor mechanics, the mathematics teachers who do roaring business through their tuition classes, and the domestic servants, though their numbers are dwindling, thanks to the 250 rupees that they get for unskilled services in each of the engineering colleges.

The story does not end here.  The number of bank branches in each and every locality is so high and business keeps booming.  The loan portfolio is enriched with the huge amount of jewel loans that get sanctioned every day.  This not only develops the viability of the banking services, but also helps thousands of students to access the banking system to pay their fees and cut down on unnecessary activities. 

Coimbatore city is now ranked among one of the fastest growing among the emerging metros, and the very strong service sector, thanks to the boom in the number of engineering colleges and the arts and science colleges, is there for all to see.  

The students often have to go their native places for private work and depend on the private omni buses, which charge a premium for their services.  These services are always reputed to be much better than the Government bus services, and this development is one big addition to the already booming service sector. 

Though these services are common to all booming cities like Coimbatore, what is special about Coimbatore, is the sheer geography of the colleges.  Each and every college in a cluster of colleges, all situated within a four kilometer radius have aided in the fast development of the residential area, virtually making every single person who brought the plots for a song, some two decades ago, a person with a net worth of a crore of rupees,. if not more.  

Coimbatore is the nearest airport city that connects the Queen of hill stations -- Ooty.  This town is just two hours from Coimbatore, and this is another added attraction.  Hundreds of tour operators become busy throughout the year, organizing several tours to this hill station.  No wonder, the hotel industry has registered one of the fastest growth rates in the entire country.

Coimbatore is not all about the service sector and the engineering colleges, with three deemed universities, and one State Government university.  It has a huge engineering base, with the pump industry contributing to a large measure here.  The largest organized poultry company, with the highest turnover of over five thousand crore rupees, is headquartered in Coimbatore.  

In the years to come, Coimbatore and others of its ilk, will see a huge boom in the service sector, and the overall economy is bound to improve with these activities.


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