The Tamil Nadu government is trying to rope in one of the major apparel manufacturing company based in Kerala which, after a major tiff with its home state's government, is planning to shift base. One of Kerala's largest industrial groups, Kitex, which had announced the cancellation of its 3,500 crore investment in the state, says it been given a red carpet welcome by the Tamil Nadu government. Kitex Chairman Sabu Jacob told a news channel that after his announcement on June 29 that the company wants to pull out certain projects from Kerala, he has received calls from 6 states.
Tamil Nadu Industries Department's nodal investment promotion agency called Guidance Tamil Nadu has sent a letter to Kitex on behalf of the state Industries Department. The Associate Vice President of Guidance, Gaurav Daga says in the letter that Sabu Jacob had discussions with Tamil Nadu Industries Minister and the letter was being written after that.
Sabu Jacob revealed said that Tamil Nadu offered him a 40 per cent subsidy, land at half the market value, 100 per cent relaxation on stamp duty, 5 per cent tax reduction for 6 years, 25 per cent subsidy for environmental protection infrastructure, 50 per cent subsidy for intellectual property, Rs 4,000 per month for the training of each employee for six months, electricity subsidy, and several other freebies.
However, the group is yet to decide whether it would shift its operations to Tamil Nadu or not. According to reports, even Telangana has approached Kitex.
Kitex Garments, the second-largest children's apparel manufacturer in the world, has announced the scrapping of the Rs 3,500 crore project for which it had signed a memorandum with the Kerala government at the "Ascend Global Investors Meet" in Kochi in January 2020. The project was to open an apparel park in Kochi and establish industrial parks in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Palakkad.
Sabu Jacob, said: "Six states in India have already invited us and I received calls from Chief Ministers, Industries Ministers, and Principal Secretaries of these states. However, not even a clerk called me from Kerala even after we announced that we are backing out from a mammoth investment of Rs 3,500 crore."
"The offer given by the Tamil Nadu government is irresistible and I came to know that many facilities are being provided by our neighbouring state. However, a decision to shift from Kerala has to be taken after a lot of consultations with our team, our management... it will not happen in a day but we are seriously contemplating it."
"The Tamil Nadu government has also said that they are willing to provide anything over and above these offers."
The noted industrialist said that the offer from Tamil Nadu is too good and that it has raised his morale which was low following the "victimisation" by the Kerala government.
He said that Kerala was not even providing any subsidy including for power, noting that it was all profit for the state government but even after this, there is no professional interest being envisaged by it.
"The attitude of the Kerala government is very important... I don't say that the present government, even the present opposition, when they were in power, was also having a similar attitude. As far as industries are concerned, we are at the mercy of the local level leaders of political parties and even an upper division clerk in the state can scuttle the prospects of an industrialist. Kerala is lagging behind in industrial growth and the attitude of the rulers and bureaucracy is the reason behind this."
Kitex is a corporate company that got into politics a few years ago and floated a political outfit named "Twenty 20", which was earlier registered as a non profit organisation, and it wrested power in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat.
In the recent assembly elections, Twenty 20 contested in six seats but could not win any.
Jacob said: "I am fed up with Kerala and its administration... 11 teams of officers from various departments have raided the company in the past one month. Department of Labour, Factories, and Boilers conducted searches. Pollution control board officers also reached our factory premises and searched every nook and corner of the factory and grilled our employees for hours."
"We have been functioning here for the past 26 years and employ 11,000 employees. The Kerala government is totally anti-industry and they treat us as bourgeoisie, exploiters, encroachers... even addressed as criminals and we are humiliated in public."
Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry has already come out against the treatment meted out to Jacob and had called upon stringent action against the victimisation of industries and industrial groups.
Kerala Industries Minister P. Rajeev had reacted to the controversy two days ago and said that the government was in talks with Kitex. However, he also said that people should not defame the state without holding discussions first.