Saturday, 2 July 2016

#TICVacations - Something new to learn

Thoothukudi, a town in south Tamil Nadu is where I was. Popularly known as Tuticorin is a port and thermal power plant. There are hardly any tourist places in this part of Tamil Nadu. I was invited to this sleepy town for bloggers meet. It was me and Rajdeep (journalist) accompanying me to the plant of VV Mineral.

VV Mineral is the India's largest manufacturer and exporter for garnet, Ilmenite and Siliconite. These beach minerals are used for electronic and nuclear purposes. My stay was scheduled in GRT Regency approx 10 mins from airport. Like the city, the hotel was lonely too and only had business visitors. VV Mineral bloggers meet was to start early at 7am. I woke up after a series of alarms to find out that I'm running 10 mins late already. Quickly packed my bags and ran to the restaurant below only to have the worst tea of my life. Protip - Always ask for Kaapi.

We headed to the plant in Srivaikuntam, 25 kms from Thoothukudi. We were welcomed by the mining division.


Here I was looking at the product I had never thought I would get a chance to cover! 'Rare Earth' as a topic seems complex but VV Mineral has successfully built a giant industry employing around 3,000 employees across the state. I was witnessing a successful model of rural employment at VV. The mining officer showed us around the plant and explained how Garnet is Illeminet is extracted. The manager made the complex machinery and processes look as easy as if it was from our 8th grade physics books! They have used eco-friendly processes and have brought the cost down.
This also contributes to the idea of 'The ease of doing business'.

Later that day, we went to Thisayenvillai which is the corporate headquarters of VV Mineral. The town is situated near to Kudankulam nuclear plant and the mining department accompanied us. The road to Thisayenvillai was scenic but the road conditions were bad. After a rough ride, we reached to a beach near Thisayenvillai. This 40km beach is rich with minerals and is used for sand mining activities. Garnet, a mineral, is produced on this beach sand 3 meters above. Thus the bottom layer is silica (sand) and top layer...you got it right... Garnet. Needless to say it is also well maintained by VV Mineral.
The soft beach sand and blue waters were calling the swimmer inside me. Being a Mumbai lad, it was enchanting for me to see clear blue sea water.


And there we were having fresh coconut water on this scenic beach. This part of Tamil Nadu is famous for Chettinad cuisine. There was quite a spread for the non-vegetarians. I enjoyed my chapati, dal and curd rice. The bloggers meet was concluded and had Madurai next on my list.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni

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