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Kerala row: KITEX bound for Telangana on ‘special flight’

KITEX Managing Director Sabu Jacob said he and a five-member team would go to Hyderabad Friday by a special flight sent by the Telangana government for discussions.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: July 10, 2021 10:38:14 am
KITEX managing director Sabu Jacob (Facebook/sabu.jacob.961)

The standoff between the Kerala government and garment major KITEX has taken a new turn with the latter indicating a positive response to overtures by Telangana regarding a Rs 3,500- crore project that it had initially proposed for Kerala.

KITEX Managing Director Sabu Jacob said he and a five-member team would go to Hyderabad Friday by a special flight sent by the Telangana government for discussions. “We have already had one round of discussions with Telangana Industry Minister K T Rama Rao. They have offered excellent facilities and support for the Rs 3,500-crore project, which we have abandoned in Kerala. Telangana has invited us following our announcement to cancel the apparel project in Kerala,” he said.

Accusing leaders of the CPM and Congress in Kerala of seeing his firm “as traitors,” Sabu added, “We have no plan to make further investment in Kerala. It is already difficult for us to run the existing garment unit in Ernakulam. Then, how can we plan new investments? We have already spent Rs 200 crore for the proposed project, which would have given employment to 30,000 people, apart from developing 600 small-scale ventures in the sector.”

The KITEX announcement that it was shifting its project from Kerala followed a series of inspections and raids on its garment manufacturing/processing units in the state by various government departments. In the last six months, there have been 11 raids by departments.

Following KITEX’s declaration last week, Industries Minister P Rajeev told the media that he had looked into the raids on the company. “No government department has suo motu gone for inspection at the existing manufacturing units. There have been complaints, and hence various departments have inspected the units. The KITEX management could have taken up their woes with the government. Instead, they have been criticising the government on social media, only to tarnish it,” the minister said.

Denying any political vendetta by the CPM behind the raids, Rajeev said, “We are going to introduce a centralised system for such inspections, which would do away with vested interests, if any, of officials.”

With 15,000 people on its payrolls, KITEX is Kerala’s largest private sector employer in the industrial sector. An apolitical forum floated by it, Twenty20, has been contesting local body elections since 2015, and holds power in Kizhakkambalam panchayat in Ernakulam, where its units are housed. In 2020, Twenty20 had retained Kizhakkambalam and won three other nearby panchayats.

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