Labour Minister P.K. Gurudasan has said that rumours about the State government's move to nationalise the cashew industry is totally baseless.

Talking to presspersons here on Friday, he said the Kerala Cashew Factories Amendment Act 2009 going for the consent of the President of India had triggered the rumours.

The Act was passed only with the specific intention of protecting the 30 cashew factories under the management of the public sector Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC) and the 10 factories under the management of the Kerala Cashew Workers' Apex Industrial Cooperative Society (Capex).

The factories of the KSCDC and the Capex were formerly private sector factories lying closed. The government had taken over these factories and created public and cooperative sector establishments to manage and run these factories in order to protect the interest of cashew workers who would otherwise lose their means of livelihood, he said.

The factories were acquired under the Kerala Cashew Factories Requisitioning Act 1979. Under the Act, the acquisition required to be renewed every five years. This provision prompted some of the former owners of the acquired factories move the court to get the factories back. In 2009, through a Supreme Court verdict, four factories were ordered to be returned to their former owners.

It was, therefore, to protect the remaining factories under the management of the KSCDC and the Capex that the government had enacted the Kerala Cashew Factories Amendment Act 2009. The Act had no intention behind it to nationalise the cashew industry, Mr. Gurudasan said.

Rumours to the contrary were not only untrue but mischievous, he said. It was because the KSCDC and the Capex were functioning as model employers in the cashew sector that the government decided to protect the factories through the Act.

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