Ahead of talks with the Telangana government over his investment plans, chairman of the Kitex group Sabu Jacob, who has backed out from a Rs 3,500 crore project in Kerala, on Friday said he was not leaving his home state on his own, but was being “hounded out”.
He alleged that the Kerala government authorities did not bother to interfere even after his announcement of withdrawal from the multi-crore investment project from the state.
“I'm not going on my own. I'm being hounded out, I am being kicked out..," Jacob told reporters at the airport near Kochi as he reached to take a special private jet sent by the Telangana government to travel to Hyderabad to discuss his investment plans with the authorities there.
Jacob said he was invited by the Telangana government after his group had a discussion with them "at different levels".
Reiterating his allegation that the atmosphere in Kerala was not conducive for launching business, the industrialist said no other investor in the southern state should face such an experience.
Jacob said he had been doing business in Kerala for the past 53 years.
"If this is the experience of an investor who has created a history and a revolution in the industrial sector in Kerala, then what would be the fate of those who invest a meagre amount of Rs 10,000 or Rs 20,000 for earning their livelihood?" he asked.
Jacob claimed that not a single Kerala minister telephoned him to enquire about the reasons for his group's withdrawal from investing in the state.
"But chief ministers of nine states telephoned me. Industrialists also called me. Now a private jet has been sent for us", Jacob said, and called for a change in the approach of the Kerala government towards industries.
There has been no immediate reaction from the state government to Jacob's fresh charges against it.
Kitex Garments Ltd had said it has decided to withdraw from the project signed during the "Ascend Global Investors Meet" organised by the state government in January 2020, alleging that it was difficult for the company to run the existing industrial units in the state.
The industrialist had alleged that various units of Kitex were raided 10 times by officials from various departments during the past one month.
He had alleged that officials comprising 40-50 in number, entered the factory units, carried out searches, prevented workers, including women employees, from doing their job, grilled them and harassed them.
Kerala Industries Minister P Rajeev had said that neither the state government nor any of its departments on their own had initiated any enquiry into or inspection of Kitex Garments Ltd.
He had said all inspections were a result of various complaints to the National Human Rights Commission, Kerala high court and other authorities against the company.