Conscience does not permit investment of even one rupee in Kerala: Kitex group chairman

Alleging harassment by Kerala government officials, Jacob had in the last week of June said his group was withdrawing its Rs 3,500 crore project from the state.

My conscience now does not permit me to invest even a rupee in Kerala ever again, Kitex group chairman Sabu Jacob said on Sunday after returning from his trip to Telangana.

He said he has plans to initially invest Rs 1,000 crore in Telangana and had given assurances to them to that effect.

Speaking to the media after landing at the Cochin International Airport in Nedumbassery here, Jacob also took a dig at Congress MLAs and MP Benny Behanan, who had made complaints against his units, by saying that he was “indebted” to them for showing him what was a business friendly atmosphere and for opening the way for him to earn crores of money.

“I am grateful to them (the Congress MLAs and MPs),” he added.

He, however, declined to react to what Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Saturday that claims of Kitex that Kerala was not investment or business-friendly was a “planned and deliberate” move to humiliate the state.

Jacob said he has a lot of respect for the chief minister who has the right to scold him or criticise him and therefore, he was not going to react to what Vijayan said.

Referring to his two-day visit to Telangana on their invitation, he said that an aerial survey of the industrial parks and the facilities was facilitated by the state government there and before leaving he had discussions with the industries minister and other officials there.

He said that his company plans to initially invest Rs 1,000 crore there in the first phase and assurances to that effect have been given to the Telangana government.

After technical evaluations are carried out within the next two weeks, a call would be taken on whether to increase the investment there, he added.

He also said that his company has decided that by the end of this month, a final agreement with Telangana will be arrived at and thereafter, within the next two years a certain amount of money would be invested there.

Jacob said that if the people in Kerala come to know of the facilities and offers given to him, not a single business or industry would remain in the state and added that this trip that he took would be an inspiration to all businessmen and industrialists here.

He said he will be holding a press meet on Monday to give further details regarding his investment plans in Telangana and the offers made to him by that state.

On the aspect of offers, he said Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, called him inviting him to meet Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.

On whether he was open to discussions with the Kerala government, he said he was always open to talks with them. “Even if they had sent a clerk or a peon, I would have been open to talks. I am still open to talks with them.

However, my conscience at the moment does not permit me to invest even a rupee in Kerala ever again,” he said. Jacob said he has been facing problems for a long time, but he hung on as he was concerned about the thousands of people he has employed in his companies.

However, he was continuously surrounded, hounded and pushed into a corner and therefore, he finally decided that he cannot continue like this, he told the media.

He said no matter where in India he sets up his business he will provide jobs there to every Keralite who approaches him. He said if his actions can bring a change in Kerala, it would only help the future generations of the state.

Alleging harassment by Kerala government officials, Jacob had in the last week of June said his group was withdrawing its Rs 3,500 crore project from the State.

Two days ago, the Kerala government had said it has an “open approach” towards issues raised by Kitex group, even as the company stuck to its decision to back out from a Rs 3,500crore investment plan in the state, with its chairman alleging that he was being “hounded and kicked out.”

“The government is still open…issues can be discussed with the investors and take things forward,” Industries Minister P Rajeev had told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. He was responding to Jacob’s statement that he was not leaving his home state on his own, but was being “hounded and kicked out.”

Before leaving for Hyderabad, Jacob had alleged that the Kerala government authorities did not bother to intervene even after his announcement of withdrawal from the multi-crore investment project from the state.

He had reiterated his charge that the atmosphere in Kerala was not conducive for launching business and said no other investor should face such an experience in the state.

The industries minister, however, had rejected the charges, saying the state has a conducive atmosphere for launching industries and young investors in various start-ups would tell their better experience with the state government.

Kitex Garments Ltd had said it has decided to withdraw from the project signed during the “Ascend Global Investors Meet” organised by the Kerala government in Thiruvananthapuram in January 2020, alleging that it was difficult for the company to run the existing industrial units in the state.

Jacob had alleged that various units of Kitex were raided 10 times by officials from various departments during the past one month.

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