KIA Motors, which was under pressure by the new Andhra Pradesh government over recruitment of local persons in its workforce, has now come out with a plan to meet the company’s needs for unskilled labour fully by hiring from within the state and simultaneously skilling local youth for factory jobs. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy is scheduled to inaugurate a manufacturing unit at Erramanchi village, near its existing facility, in Anantapur district on Thursday.
In tune with the government’s new industrial policy that mandates 75 per cent reservation for locals in jobs, the KIA Project will generate 4,000 permanent and 7,000 temporary jobs, with 100 per cent employment to local people for its unskilled labour requirement.
“Continuing the state policy of preparing a competent workforce to suit the needs of the industry, the Korean motor manufacturing unit will partner with the state in upgrading the skills of the workforce from locals to suit the requirements of industries. KIA, its vendors and affiliates had employed 12,835 workers of whom 10,887 hail from our state, of which 7,029 are from Anantapur district,’’ a statement from the CM’s office said on Wednesday.
After Jagan came to power, KIA found itself under scrutiny for the concessions extended by ex-CM N Chandrababu Naidu. He had rolled out the red carpet for KIA, with the company choosing Andhra over contenders Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Kia set up its plant in Penukonda in Anantapur district in February 2018 and rolled out its first car on August 8 this year. Apart from giving 536 acres land to Kia at Rs 6 lakh per acre, Naidu waived off state GST for 22 years. The TDP government also spent Rs 200 crore to level the land which was filled with boulders and small hillocks; constructed a flyover to link the plant with the highway, and diverted water from Gandikota reservoir to Gollapalli reservoir to provide water to the plant. His government paid Rs 6 lakh to Rs 10.50 lakh per acre to the farmers and allocated the land to the Korean company.
With Naidu’s imprint on it, Jagan had given a cold shoulder to Kia, skipping the roll-out event of its first SUV Seltos on August 8. The CM had gone to New Delhi on August 6-7 to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi but extended his stay.
Armed with the AP Employment of Local Candidates in Industries and Factories Bill, 2019, which the YSRCP Government promulgated on July 24, the government and YSRCP MLAs of Anantapur district and Hindupur MP K G Madhav pressured Kia to recruit local workforce. This had created a problem for Kia which preferred polytechnic and Industrial Training Institute graduates, but could not find in the state.
State Industries Minister M Goutham Reddy said the previous TDP government acquired the land at a very low price from the farmers with a promise of jobs. “The farmers and locals have been left in a lurch with no jobs,’’ he said. Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Industries Department A Padmavati, however, said the government had no issues with the concessions given to Kia Motors.
“We are not reconsidering anything,’’ she said. “The land prices increased only after KIA motors started setting up the plant. We paid what the farmers asked. How can YSRCP say we paid less?’’ counters N Amarnatha Reddy, then industries minister in the TDP government. “The previous TDP government promised jobs to family members of about 250 farmers who gave up their land for KIA motors and 4,000 jobs to locals but the company has not given jobs to any locals. Locals are being offered only low-paying non-technical jobs like house-keeping, security guards etc. The company is preferring polytechnic and ITI students rather than B.Tech. However, we have started taking steps to ensure that Kia motors follows the 75 per cent local jobs rule,’’ Penukonda YSRCP MLA M Sankaranarayana said.
After taking over as chief minister in May when Jagan ordered cancellation of projects, land allotments, and re-tendering of ongoing works, CEO of Kia Motors Corporation Han Wu Park wrote him a letter invoking the name of his late father Y S Rajashekara Reddy. “The highly respected Reddy surname and your honourable position as CM of the State of AP remind me of old memories dating back to 2007, when I was leading the establishment of the Hyundai Motor R&D Centre (Hyundai Motor India Engineering) in Hyderabad. At that time, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, your late father and then CM of AP, who requested me to invest in an automobile factory in the State,’’ Han-Wu Park said in the letter.