Thiruvananthapuram: Finally, the government has found a solution to the woes of small-time entrepreneurs like Sethumadhavan Kurup, the character played by Mohanlal in the Priyadarshan-Sreenivasan satire 'Midhunam' (1993).
Salvation comes in the form of Kerala Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Facilitation Bill, 2019. The bill, which dramatically simplifies the procedure for starting an industry, was passed in the Assembly on Wednesday.
Had Sethumadhavan wanted to start his biscuit factory (Dakshayani Biscuits) now, he would not have had to run after village officers, panchayat officials and chief engineers for a variety of licences and suffer their tantrums.
Sethumadhavan just has to go ahead and start his venture, damn the greedy officers. Of course, he has to secure the necessary licences. But for this, he will get a window of three-and-a-half years. The new law says the owner need to get hold of all the requisite licences and clearances only within six months after the initial grace period of three years.
"In fact, he can apply for these licences the moment he begins his enterprise," said industries principal secretary K Elangovan. Industries minister E P Jayarajan said the law would transform Kerala into a 100 per cent investor-friendly state. "Under this law, any aspiring industrialist can begin a new industry without getting any licences," the minister said.
But first he has to put in an application in a self-attested form before the District Clearance Board headed by the collector. Once the application is accepted, the board would return a receipt. "You can start your industry the very next day after you pocket the receipt," Jayarajan said.
There will be no trouble in getting power connection either. "Now, the building number provided by local bodies are not mandatory to get a power connection. Anyone who deposits money will get a connection," Jayarajan said.
The applications of only 'Red' category industries will be rejected. The Pollution Control Board has drawn up a list of Red, Orange, Green and White category industries. There are 89 industry types in 'Red'. These include mining, pharmaceuticals, oil refinery, distillery, automobile manufacturing units, industries engaged in recycling of hazardous waste, fire cracker units and paint manufacturing units.
If the application is rejected on any other grounds, the investor can give an appeal before the Single Window Clearance Board. The appeal has to be heard and settled within 30 days.
The benefit is available only to micro, small and medium units with an investment of up to Rs 10 crore. This does not include land cost.
The minister said certain safeguards, besides the ban on 'Red' industries, are built into the blank cheque granted to start an industry. "The building cannot come up on converted paddy lands, wetlands and coastal regulation zones".
Kerala Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Facilitation Bill, 2019, is a refined version of the Kerala Investment Promotion and Facilitation Act passed in 2018.
Under the 2018 Act, the decision on application to start a venture should be taken in 30 days. If not, consent is deemed to be given.
"This in itself was revolutionary. The Act also brought into being K-Swift, the online single window clearance mechanism," the industries minister said.