Special Correspondent

Karim hailed for averting closure of Pepsi unit

Minister says rows have cost 3 lakh jobs in recent times

Kozhikode: “Shouldn't we have averted closure of Coco-Cola factory at Plachimada? It was contributing nearly Rs.500 crore annually to exchequer and livelihood to hundreds,” T. Balakrishnan, Principal Secretary (Industries & Commerce), said.

He was speaking on ‘Development – a comprehensive perspective,' at a programme organised by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) here on Monday.

“Coco-Cola is made in 200 countries; it is a familiar name to even children in these places; it has factories in 13 States within India. There have not been complaints against the soft drink makers from anywhere. But Coco-Cola was targeted for a mass agitation and finally had to be shut down at Plachimada. If there were issues, should not we have tried to find solutions instead of forcing closure of the factory.”

Mr. Balakrishnan said he was happy the government had refused to shut down the Pepsi factory against which also an agitation was launched. The closure of Pepsi was averted at the intervention of Industries Minister Elamaram Karim, he said.

(The Minister who was present on the dais smiled.)

Mr. Balakrishnan said that as part of its corporate social responsibility programmes the Pepsi company had helped double tomato production in the country through its research projects. It had also offered a project to raise rice yield in the State, he said.

The senior official also said Adidas, which had come in search of a site for its factory in Kerala, left when its official found road connectivity was unsatisfactory. Now, they established their company in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh government built for them 20 km of road.Mr. Balakrishnan, however, was also quick to point out success stories. The International Container Transhipment Terminal coming up in Kochi would be a major project. Another project that held out bright prospects for industrialisation was the new technology projects at Mavoor at the site where Grasim unit once stood. The State government had given its green signal for the project.

Showpiece

He said Kerala's showpiece was its Kudumbasree project which had nearly 10,000 tiny manufacturing units and savings of nearly Rs.1,000 crore.

“Certain forces are trying to impose poverty in the pretext of promoting simplicity and blocking development. It is up to the people to make a choice,” he said.

The Minister said controversies of different kinds involving development projects had led to loss of about three lakh employment opportunities in recent times.

KSIDC Managing Director Alkesh Kumar Sharma and District Collector P.B. Salim spoke.

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