Kerala is 50 years behind, says Kitex MD before departure to Hyderabad

Kochi: Just before boarding a special private jet sent by the Telangana government, estranged Kerala businessman Sabu Jacob on Friday expressed deep concern at the way businessmen are being treated in his home state and said ‘Kerala is 50 years behind’.

“The whole world has changed, but in Kerala, it’s still 50-years behind. We have been doing business in Kerala for the past 53 years. I feel really worried about our young generation as there are no jobs for them. Just look around 6.1 million Keralites are working outside the state and abroad. Gone are the days when men from Tamil Nadu used to come to Kerala for jobs. I wish no Kerala businessman faces a situation that I have been facing for a while,” said Jacob.

“The only thing that an investor seeks is peace of mind and that’s what I have not got in my home state, which I love the most. I am not going out from here on my own, instead, I am being driven out. Not a single telephone call I got from anyone, here ever since I raised my apprehensions, while I got a call from the Chief Ministers, Ministers and others from nine states in the country,” said Jacob, speaking to the media just before departing from the Kochi airport.

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Trouble broke out for Jacob, who heads Kitex — one of Kerala’s biggest industrial groups, ever since he announced apprehensions over the way he was being treated after he announced plans for his proposed Rs 3,500 crore unit in Kerala.

Kitex Garments, the second-largest children’s apparel manufacturer in the world, after a series of raids by various state government agencies, later announced the scrapping of the Rs 3,500 crore project for which it had signed a memorandum with the Kerala government at the ‘Ascend Global Investors Meet’ in Kochi in January 2020.

As part of the project, an apparel park was to be opened in Kochi, besides the establishment of industrial parks in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Palakkad.

Kitex fell on the wrong side of the political establishment in Kerala after Jacob floated a political outfit named ‘Twenty 20’ — which was earlier registered as a non-profit organisation — and wrested power in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat in Ernakulam district.

In the recent Assembly elections, Twenty 20 contested six seats but could not win any.

Jacob has gone on record to state that the Kerala government is not providing any subsidy, including for power, and also has said that ‘it was all profit for the state government and there has been no professional interest being shown by it’.

He had also alleged that things are at the mercy of the local level leaders here, and even an upper division clerk in the state can scuttle the prospects of an industrialist.

Kerala is lagging behind in industrial growth and the attitude of the rulers and the bureaucracy is the reason behind this, he had said.

Jacob and his establishment saw 11 teams of officers from various departments raiding the company in the past one month. The company employees were also grilled for hours.

It was then that Jacob had announced that he will move out of the state, following which offers poured in from nine states.

“I will meet you again when I return from Telangana on Saturday,” said Jacob to the media.

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