Kerala tries to placate Kitex Group as it looks to back out of project | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kerala tries to placate Kitex Group as it looks to back out of project

By, Thiruvananthapuram
Jul 01, 2021 12:53 AM IST

: Hectic efforts are on to placate Kitex Group of companies, one of the largest apparel-making units of the country, after it announced its decision to back out from the ₹35000 crore project in Kerala, alleging witch-hunt by agencies of the state government

: Hectic efforts are on to placate Kitex Group of companies, one of the largest apparel-making units of the country, after it announced its decision to back out from the 35000 crore project in Kerala, alleging witch-hunt by agencies of the state government.

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State industry minister P Rajeev, who also hails from Kochi, said the government would look into the complaints and requested its chairman Sabu M Jacob not to take any hasty decision, which, he said, will tarnish the state’s image.

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Ranked eighth in the country in ease of doing business, the announcement has rattled the government, which is having an uneasy relationship with the firm after it ventured into politics in 2015 by floating a political party called ‘Twenty20.’

“The government is ready to talk about the problems faced by the firm. Nobody from the industry department raided the firm. Its chairman should have taken up these issues with the government rather than airing them on social media,” said the minister.

He said soon after assuming power last month, he called a meeting of all businessmen and industrialists, and Kitex officials also participated. “I am sure all issues will be ironed out. I have asked the industry secretary to look into issues raised by the firm,” he said.

Initially, Sabu M Jacob took to social media to vent his anger and later talked to media in the port city. “Almost every day, officials of the government department descend on the premises of the company and makes inquiries as if we committed a big fraud. I am fed up with continuous harassment. The government treats us like bourgeoises, exploiter capitalists and land encroachers. Enough is enough,” he said. Besides calling off the project, which was signed in the 2020 investment meet, Jacob said he would also be shifting some of the existing units to other states if the situation continued like this. He said the plan was to open three apparel parks in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad, as part of the industrial corridor intended to give jobs to at least 35,000 people.

“If the situation continues like this, the state will turn a graveyard of industries. While neighbouring states roll out red carpets for industries, we are hounding them out. No doubt, the existing climate will drive entrepreneurs to suicide,” he said, adding that the latest to inspect his premises were officials from the pollution control board. He said his firm was established three decades ago and employed 15,000 people now.

Asked whether the latest harassment was anything to do with the party he floated, he said it multiplied after Twenty20 came into existence.

Twenty20 is a party floated by the Kitex Group that swept power in a tiny village Kizakambalam for the first time in the 2015 local body poll.

For a politically vibrant state, the party’s winning streak was hard to digest, and many dubbed it as a major irritant. Though villagers were happy, politicians were not amused. There were many attempts to split the party, but it withstood pulls and pressures, and in recent assembly elections its candidates gave a strong fight in three assembly seats in Ernakulam district. Now, the party is ruling three local bodies in the district.

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