Industries Dept now cagey about releasing list of ‘new’ enterprises

The Finance Department had sought Rs 2,000 crore as it has not been able to distribute the welfare pensions due to the prevailing financial crisis. Photo: Manorama Online

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Industries Department is apprehensive about officially releasing the list of new enterprises registered last year after it lost face by putting out one containing petty, defunct or long-running shops.

The Department denied all the requests seeking the list under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The media could collect the data from only a few districts and found irregularities.

Several people from different parts of the State have filed RTI applications seeking to know the names and details of the new enterprises. Many got the reply that the details are furnished on the website, but it only has figures on the money invested, the number of jobs created and the number of registrations. No details beyond these statistics are available on the website.

It is suspected more than 10,000 registrations on the list are fake or old. The Department also fears that its claims would be exposed if the list is released at the taluk and panchayat levels. Meanwhile, Industries Minister P Rajeev claimed that the discrepancies are only in a few districts and the rest of the entries in the list are correct.

The State had launched 'One lakh enterprises a year' programme at the start of the current fiscal year. (The campaign was christened ‘Oru Varsham Oru lakhsham’ in Malayalam.) The Government had promised to create more than 2 lakh job opportunities and to attract Rs 7,000 crore in investment through the campaign.

The said list is on the registration of new enterprises since then. However, in a major embarrassment, the Government had exaggerated the number of enterprises registered. The list of new enterprises even includes enterprises and shops that have been operating for many decades. As the claim has been busted, the Department has now decided to examine the list and make the necessary corrections if any.

More evidence surface

The enterprises which have been functional in Kottayam and Malappuram districts for years together have been listed as new enterprises in the list. The existing stationery shops and barber shops have been named as new ones.

Manorama News Channel had reported that a stationery shop which has been operational for the past 6 years in Pala has been listed among the new enterprises. The shop owner Jayesh disclosed he had only participated in the meeting organised by the Industries Department and that his shop has been included in the list thereafter.

Many enterprises which have been functional for years together in Malappuram district are also on the list. Lulu Bakery and Coolbar at Munduparambu junction near Malappuram town started the business 8 years ago. Five years ago, it was taken over by another management. As the licencee’s name has been changed recently, the shop is considered to be a new enterprise by the Government.

Investment plunges

Even as the number of enterprises and jobs created increases every minute on the Government website, the investment seems to have dipped. The website shows the number of enterprises has reached 1,33,922 as of Sunday, Feb 19, at 7.30 pm; this is a rise of 23 from the same time the previous day. It is baffling how 23 enterprises got registered though it was a public holiday!

The number of jobs has also risen to 2,87,764, from 2,87,688 at the same time the previous day; a rise of 76 jobs. However, the investment has plunged. On Saturday, the investment claimed was Rs 8,098.6 crore. By Sunday, around the same time, it dipped by Rs 1.2 crore to Rs 8,097.4 crore.

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