It cost Rs 1,171 crore, took 16 long years to build and was projected to carry six lakh people a day. Chennai's Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) covers a distance of about 20 km and passes through (mostly as an elevated structure) some of the most congested localities in the city.

"Our days have become longer. Earlier, we slept soon after sunset. Now, we remain awake till 10.30 p.m."

A motley crowd of around 100 people

Ragpicking, one would assume, is the last area a corporate would want to foray into. But for ITC, which had in the past entered unorganised businesses such as manufacturing match sticks and incense sticks, it is a potential gold mine. Consider this: for 80 per cent of the 630 paper mills in India, waste paper is a key raw material.

We see several Pucca houses being constructed in place of dilapidated and tiled structures on both sides of the road as our car speeds past Siruvachhur, Sirkanpur, Nathakadu and Illupaikudi villages in the Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu. To describe the construction activity as feverish would be an understatement.

It could well be the most sought-after stretch of land in India. Five global car majors, two commercial vehicle companies, one tractor manufacturer, three earth moving equipment companies, a tyre major and over 100 auto parts producers have either made it their home or will do so soon.