They will have to either restructure projects or surrender land
Nineteen private companies which have taken government land on lease for industrial purposes and violated the lease pacts by failing to honour the deadline set for commissioning the ventures will either have to immediately restructure their projects or surrender the land to the government.
Official sources told The Hindu here on Thursday that the companies, which have been put on notice for violation of the lease pact, will get a breather to explain the cause for the delay in launching the projects as committed in the pacts, but will not be permitted to keep the land in their possession on flimsy grounds. The companies are unlikely to get yet another chance to go on appeal, either before the government or Kinfra (Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation), the nodal agency, to furnish the reasons for delaying the projects. It will be imperative to submit a plan of action they intend to adopt for expediting the work.
A thorough restructuring of the projects has become mandatory for making them viable within a specific timeframe. The 19 companies together are reported to be holding about 350 acres of land, acquired by Kinfra on a fast-track system for industrial purposes in different parts of the State. Eight companies in the Kinfra parks in Palakkad, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram alone are in possession of 245 acres of land.
The Industries Department has proposed to link the lease period in the agreements for new projects with the scale of investment and job opportunities they are expected to generate once they go on stream. Concessions have also been mooted for multi-phased projects with major investments and greater employment potential. According to an order issued in November last, the lease deed with an investor will turn live only on the commissioning of the project. Such safeguards have been envisaged to ensure that the government land earmarked for setting up industries is not diverted for other purposes, sources said.
Following the conduct of the Emerging Kerala meet in Kochi, the Industries Department has received inquiries for setting up small and medium enterprises, (SMEs) mostly in the food processing sector on small plots, even less than an acre of land. The draft industrial policy has also laid thrust on promoting the SME sector, considering its employment potential with minimum investment. The immediate priority is to meet the demand from such entrepreneurs and the case of the 19 companies will be settled soon, sources said.