Pathanamthitta: The recent suicide of a builder following the denial of ownership certificate for his convention centre located at Bakkalam in Anthoor municipality of Kannur district had brought the spotlight on the rampant red tape in Left-ruled Kerala. However, there are indeed places like Pazhavangadi Panchayath in Pathanamthitta district that are business-friendly! Jayan Varghese, an NRI entrepreneur, would vouch for this as he could start the trial run of his oil-processing unit in a record time of two and a half months.
Jayan was made to run from pillar to post for two and a half years when he tried to open his unit in Kozhencherry Panchayath in the same district. After the ordeal to get the project sanctioned in Kozhencherry, Jayan approached Pazhavangadi Panchayath, in the same district and could complete the trial run of the project without delay.
The entrepreneur was given an enthusiastic welcome by the members and officials of Pazhavangadi Panchayath, which is ruled by LDF, with the Panchayath secretary R. Sreelekha herself giving all necessary information for initiating the procedures. All the details on how to prepare the applications and what types of permits are necessary were given by the Secretary herself.
Jayan says that the officials at Pazhavangadi were focussing more on getting the industry started as soon as possible. No objections were raised, instead, advice on legal solutions to overcome possible hurdles were given. The Panchayath members Anu T. Samuel, Betsy K. Oommen and Elsy Mathew, constantly provided all sort of support.
Jayakrishnan, the Panchayath official in charge of licenses, helped to speed up the procedures. C. Gopakumar, additional industry officer, District Industries Centre, gave him the exact guidelines wherever necessary. Jayan said that even in Kozhancherry panchayath, District Industries Centre had offered extensive support. All necessary documents including building utilisation certificate, Dangerous and Offensive Trade Certificate, a certificate from Pollution Control Board and Health Department could be obtained within days.
Now, only the license from Legal Metrology and the certificate of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) remain to be obtained. Since the website of FSSAI was out of order, the fee could not yet be paid. Meanwhile, the trial run at the oil production unit could be completed successfully. Production could be started in full swing once the two remaining certificates are also obtained. The unit also has the facilities for milling grains and for roasting flour.
The Panchayath showed no delay in issuing the utilisation certificate for changing the purpose of the building from residential to industrial. Panchayath members and engineer visited the site immediately on receiving the application. The officials also supported to remind the applicant about filing certain applications which he had left out. The Ranni North Section of Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) made the power connection available within 48 hours. Assistant Engineer Sheela Jacob followed up the procedures till completion.
The Health Department officials of Makkappuzha also issued the certificates without any delay. The Panchayath officials were not aware of the new rules that the documents from District Medical Office was not mandatory for non-medical industrial units, but the District Industries Centre had informed the Panchayath of the amended rules which sped up the procedures. All non-medical units needed only the certificate from the local Health Office.
Jayan Varghese narrates the success story of how the people’s representatives and officials in a local body extended total support for starting a new industrial unit. He still cannot believe the change that happened when shifting from one panchayath to another.