Factors Influencing the Location of Industries : Geographical and Non-Geographical Factors

Many important geographical factors involved in the location of individual industries are of relative significance, e.g., availability of raw materials, power resources, water, labour, markets and the transport facilities.

But besides such purely geographical factors influencing industrial location, there are factors of historical, human, political and economic nature which are now tending to surpass the force of geographical advantages. Consequently, the factors influencing the location of industry can be divided into two broad categories i.e.

(I) Geographical factors, and
(II) Non-geographical factors.

I. Geographical Factors:

Following are the important geographical factors influencing the location of industries.

1. Raw Materials:

The significance of raw materials in manufacturing industry is so fundamental that it needs no emphasising. Indeed, the location of industrial enterprises is sometimes determined simply by location of the raw materials. Modem industry is so complex that a wide range of raw materials is necessary for its growth.

Further we should bear in mind that finished product of one industry may well be the raw material of another. For example, pig iron, produced by smelting industry, serves as the raw material for steel making industry. Industries which use heavy and bulky raw materials in their primary stage in large quantities are usually located near the supply of the raw materials.
It is true in the case of raw materials which lose weight in the process of manufacture or which cannot bear high transport cost or cannot be transported over long distances because of their perishable nature. This has been recognised since 1909 when Alfred Weber published his theory of location of industry.
The jute mills in West Bengal, sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh, cotton textile mills in Maharashtra and Gujarat are concentrated close to the sources of raw materials for this very reason. Industries like iron and steel, which use very large quantities of coal and iron ore, losing lot of weight in the process of manufacture, are generally located near the sources of coal and iron ore.
Some of the industries, like watch and electronics industries use very wide range of light raw materials and the attractive influence of each separate material diminishes. The result is that such industries are often located with no reference to raw materials and are sometimes referred to as ‘footloose industries’ because a wide range of locations is possible within an area of sufficient population density.

2. Power:

Regular supply of power is a pre-requisite for the localisation of industries. Coal, mineral oil and hydro-electricity are the three important conventional sources of power. Most of the industries tend to concentrate at the source of power.
The iron and steel industry which mainly depends on large quantities of coking coal as source of power are frequently tied to coal fields. Others like the electro-metallurgical and electro-chemical industries, which are great users of cheap hydro-electric power, are generally found in the areas of hydro-power production, for instance, aluminium industry.
As petroleum can be easily piped and electricity can be transmitted over long distances by wires, it is possible to disperse the industry over a larger area. Industries moved to southern states only when hydro-power could be developed in these coal-deficient areas.

Thus, more than all other factors affecting the location of large and heavy industries, quite often they are established at a point which has the best economic advantage in obtaining power and raw materials.

Tata Iron and Steel Plant at Jamshedpur, the new aluminium producing units at Korba (Chhattisgarh) and Renukoot (Uttar Pradesh), the copper smelting plant at Khetri (Rajasthan) and the fertilizer factory at Nangal (Punjab) are near the sources of power and raw material deposits, although other factors have also played their role.

3. Labour:

No one can deny that the prior existence of a labour force is attractive to industry unless there are strong reasons to the contrary. Labour supply is important in two respects (a) workers in large numbers are often required; (b) people with skill or technical expertise are needed. Estall and Buchanan showed in 1961 that labour costs can vary between 62 per cent in clothing and related industries to 29 per cent in the chemical industry; in the fabricated metal products industries they work out at 43 per cent.
In our country, modem industry still requires a large number of workers in spite of increasing mechanisation. There is no problem in securing unskilled labour by locating such industries in large urban centres. Although, the location of any industrial unit is determined after a careful balancing of all relevant factors, yet the light consumer goods and agro-based industries generally require a plentiful of labour supply.

4. Transport:

Transport by land or water is necessary for the assembly of raw materials and for the marketing of the finished products. The development of railways in India, connecting the port towns with hinterland determined the location of many industries around Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. As industrial development also furthers the improvement of transport facilities, it is difficult to estimate how much a particular industry owes to original transport facilities available in a particular area.

5. Market:

The entire process of manufacturing is useless until the finished goods reach the market. Nearness to market is essential for quick disposal of manufactured goods. It helps in reducing the transport cost and enables the consumer to get things at cheaper rates.
It is becoming more and more true that industries are seeking locations as near as possible to their markets; it has been remarked that market attractions are now so great that a market location is being increasingly regarded as the normal one, and that a location elsewhere needs very strong justification.
Ready market is most essential for perishable and heavy commodities. Sometimes, there is a considerable material increase in weight, bulk or fragility during the process of manufacture and in such cases industry tends to be market oriented.

6. Water:

Water is another important require­ment for industries. Many industries are established near rivers, canals and lakes, because of this reason. Iron and steel industry, textile industries and chemical industries require large quantities of water, for their proper functioning.
Significance of water in industry is evident from Table 27.3. Also it requires 36,400 litres of water to produce one kwh of thermal electricity. Further, it is worth noting that water used in industries gets polluted and is therefore not available for any other purpose.
Table 27.3 Requirement of Water in Industry:

Name of the industry Amount of water required in litres/tonne
Steel 300,000
Sulphite paper 290,000
Oil refining 25,600
Rayon 1,000,000
Paper from wood 173,000

7. Site:

Site requirements for industrial development are of considerable significance. Sites, generally, should be flat and well served by adequate transport facilities. Large areas are required to build factories. Now, there is a tendency to set up industries in rural areas because the cost of land has shot up in urban centres.

8. Climate:

Climate plays an important role in the establishment of industries at a place. Harsh climate is not much suitable for the establishment of industries. There can be no industrial development in extremely hot, humid, dry or cold climate.
The extreme type of climate of north-west India hinders the development of industries. In contrast to this, the moderate climate of west coastal area is quite congenial to the development of industries. Because of this reason, about 24 per cent of India’s modem industries and 30 per cent of India’s industrial labour is concentrated in Maharashtra-Gujarat region alone.
Cotton textile industry requires humid climate because thread breaks in dry climate. Consequently, majority of cotton textile mills are concentrated in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Artificial humidifiers are used in dry areas these days, but it increases the cost of production.

II. Non-Geographical Factors:

Now-a-days alternative raw materials are also being used because of modern scientific and technological developments. Availability of electric power supply over wider areas and the increasing mobility of labour have reduced the influence of geographical factors on the location of industries.
The non-geographical factors are those including economic, political, historical and social factors. These factors influence our modern industries to a great extent. Following are some of the important non- geographical factors influencing the location of industries.

1. Capital:

Modem industries are capital-intensive and require huge investments. Capitalists are available in urban centres. Big cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, and Chennai are big industrial centres, because the big capitalists live in these cities.

2. Government Policies:

Government activity in planning the future distribution of industries, for reducing regional disparities, elimination of pollution of air and water and for avoiding their heavy clustering in big cities, has become no less an important locational factor.
There is an increasing trend to set up all types of industries in an area, where they derive common advantage of water and power and supply to each other the products they turn out. The latest example in our country is the establishment of a large number of industrial estates all over India even in the small-scale industrial sector.
It is of relevance to examine the influence of India’s Five Year plans on industrial location in the country. The emergence of suitable industries in south India around new nuclei of public sector plants and their dispersal to backward potential areas has taken place due to Government policies.
The state policy of industrial location has a greater hand in the establishment of a number of fertiliser factories, iron and steel plants, engineering works and machine tool factories including railway, shipping, aircraft and defence installations and oil refineries in various parts in the new planning era in free India.
We may conclude by noting that the traditional explanation of a location of industry at a geographically favourable point is no longer true. Location of oil refinery at Mathura, coach factory at Kapurthala and fertiliser plant at Jagdishpur are some of the results of government policies.

3. Industrial Inertia:

Industries tend to develop at the place of their original establishment, though the original cause may have disappeared. This phenomenon is referred to as inertia, sometimes as geographical inertia and sometimes industrial inertia. The lock industry at Aligarh is such an example.

4. Efficient Organisation:

Efficient and enterprising organisation and management is essential for running modem industry successfully. Bad management sometimes squanders away the capital and puts the industry in financial trouble leading to industrial ruin.
Bad management does not handle the labour force efficiently and tactfully, resulting in labour unrest. It is detrimental to the interest of the industry. Strikes and lock-outs lead to the closure of industries. Hence, there is an imperative need of effective management and organisation to run the industries.

5. Banking Facilities:

Establishment of industries involves daily exchange of crores of rupees which is possible through banking facilities only. So the areas with better banking facilities are better suited to the establishment of industries.

6. Insurance:

There is a constant fear of damage to machine and man in industries for which insurance facilities are badly needed.
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