In what is considered a big blow to the investment climate in Kerala, Kids Garment major KITEX industries today announced that it was withdrawing from a MOU signed with Govt of Kerala.
The world’s second-largest manufacturer of kids apparel, KITEX had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kerala government at the ‘Ascend Global Investors Meet’ in Kochi in January 2020. The plan was to open an apparel park in Kochi and establish industry parks at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Palakkad.
The announcement of withdrawal investment project by KITEX follows allegations of an incessant witchhunt by the LDF government. Sabu M Jacob, chairman and managing director of Kitex group had floated a not for profit political outfit 20-20, that scored an impressive win Kizhakkambalam panchayat in the local body elections held a few months ago.
KITEX had already acquired 30 acres of land for the apparel park at Kizhakkambalam in Kochi for this expansion project. The project report has also been completed and the project would have provided jobs for at least 20,000 people. According to Sabu, the three industrial parks were envisaged to promote start-ups providing all infrastructural facilities.
Sabu said that he is fed up with the continuous harassment at the hands of the authorities. Whoever invests in Kerala will lose peace of mind and will be tempted to take his life, at some stage.
According to Sabu, 11 teams of officers from various departments have raided the company during the past one month. Departments of labour, factories and boilers and even a team led by the district collector conducted searches on the premises, questioning staff and collecting their personal details.
On Tuesday, pollution control board team of has 40 to 50 officers and searched every nook and corner of the company, but found nothing.
The Kitex factory has been functioning at the same premises for the past 26 years and has 11,000 employees on rolls. Sabu alleged that the search teams arrive with a huge team violating Covid protocols and bring camera teams of online media,” Sabu added.
“While neighbouring states give a red carpet welcome to investors, the Kerala government treats them worse than criminals,” said Sabu.
He said many states are providing free land, building, water, power and tax holiday for 10 years to investors. There are states that provide the PF and ESI share of the employees. Some states even offer Rs 5,000 salary for the employees for five years.
“We don’t demand any privileges from the government, but they should stop harassing us. If the situation continues, Kerala will turn into a graveyard for investors,” said Sabu.
In the ease of setting of business report of September 2020, Kerala slipped 10 places from 18 to 28. The move by KITEX will only exacerbate the image of a non investor friendly state, something that mirrors West Bengal, when the CPM led front was ruling there. Which takes us back to Mohanlal’s classic Varavelpu, a satire that captures what is wrong with the state of Kerala, today.