On Saturday 14th November, Hattargi-Belgaum will see the formal launch of a 300-acre aerospace SEZ. CM B S Yedurappa will formally inaugurate this SEZ. This is not the sort of SEZ that the government announces and nobody ever hears anything about it for a long time. This is one where land has been allotted, and work has begun, including an aircraft surface treatment facility set up by Quest Global, the promoters of the SEZ, and Magellan Aerospace. A sheet metal manufacturing facility and a precision machining facility for aircraft too are operational. On Saturday, more partnerships in aerospace design and manufacturing will be announced.
Aravind Melligeri, who co-founded Quest in the US in 1997 with a long time classmate, Ajit Prabhu, says that the idea of the SEZ was to offer an aerospace customer everything – from design to manufacture of components and systems – in one place. Quest, which has 1,000 employees in India and which has dedicated facilities here for GE, Rolls Royce and EADS, is designing and building the rig to test the Airbus 350’s nose landing gear.
Belgaum was selected because of its lower costs of land/infrastructure/labor/living, and also because of the availability of abundant talent for manufacturing and engineering in and around Belgaum – there are more than 2000 foundries and machine shops in a 1000 km radius of the vicinity, along with 60+ engineering, diploma and ITI institutes). The weather in Belgaum is pretty much like Bangalore’s (probably better). And Belgaum is excellently located logistically, with 3 airports (Belgaum, Hubli, and Kolhapur) in a 90 minute driving range, on the NH4 Golden Quadrilateral highway network of India, equidistant from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai, and an overnight journey from the Mumbai port. They expect 2 more ports to become accessible for our operations in the next few years (Goa and Karwar). For all these reasons, Belgaum was selected for SEZ location.
Note: Everywhere it is said QUEST SEZ Belgaum, but its exact location is Hattargi near Sankeshwar on the NH4.