No witch-hunt, bid to defame Kerala: CM Pinarayi on Kitex issue

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has reacted sharply to the allegations raised by garment manufacturer Kitex, which withdrew from a major investment plan in the state citing an adverse industrial environment. Alleging a conspiracy to humiliate Kerala, Pinarayi on Saturday said that industrial development of the state could not be blocked by pointing out isolated incidents.

“These attempts are aimed at preventing the progress of the state,” he added.

The chief minister also said that everyone was bound to obey the law and regulations. “Measures to check whether the rules are followed need not be considered as a witch-hunt,” he explained.

Pinarayi said a majority of industrialists would publicly support him on this matter.

Investor-friendly state’
According to the chief minister, Kerala provides an ideal investor-friendly environment. On Telangana sending a special aircraft to invite Kitex officials to invest in that state, Pinarayi said: “I will not make a comment on the matter. Telangana might be keen on setting up industries there. That is their issue.”

However, Pinarayi said that the Kitex controversy involves certain grave issues concerning Kerala. “Baseless allegations are being raised. It is said that Kerala is not investor-friendly. But, this is an old story. Industrialists now consider Kerala as a good place to invest,” he stressed.

In support of his argument, Pinarayi pointed out that Kerala was ranked first in the country in the ‘Sustainable Development Index’ prepared by NITI-Aayog. “Industrial development was a key factor in deciding the rank. In business environment category, Kerala was placed second,” said the chief minister.

According to Pinarayi, ever since he came to power in 2016, the state has been implementing policies favouring investment. “It was decided to set up dispute-redressal forums at the district level. A centralized system is arranged to carry out inspections. A board has been constituted at all industrial parks to fast-track clearances,” he elaborated.

Sabu Jacob
Sabu Jacob, chairman of Kitex group

“All procedures have been simplified. A single application form can be used to obtain clearances from 30 government departments. Moreover, the authorities are supposed to take decision on an application within 30 days. In case there is a delay, the industrial unit will be deemed to have received automatic permission,” he said.

Listing the other measures, Pinarayi continued: “A micro enterprise can be started by providing an affidavit alone. It needs to apply for a licence only after three years and obtain the document within six months.”

Stressing that the government’s efforts had produced good results, the chief minister said: “Currently, there are 70,946 small-scale units in Kerala. We have attracted investments amounting to Rs 6,612 crore. Industries with an investment of up to Rs 100 are cleared within a week.”

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