Kerala plans RS3,000cr Titanium Complex

Moideen bent on turning around industries

TRISSUR: Industries Minister AC Moideen is out to prove that the LDF government is much more ‘industrious’ than the previous government. And to a certain extent, he is succeeding too.

According to Moideen, the government is committed to bring a paradigm shift in the industrial culture of the state and thus improve the image in the minds of the prospective investors from not only outside Kerala, but even beyond the country.

Talking to businessbenchmark.news recently on the prospects of industrial growth in the state, AC Moideen, the minister of Industries and Sports, said his government was keen on not only improving the performance of the existing industries, but  more importantly, his ministry was keen to prove that it would ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to embracing new ventures.

Moideen said the government was working on a huge Titanium Complex  to produce more variants of titanium – at a 150 acre land being earmarked near Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML) in Chavara.

A preliminary study on the project has already been conducted. The new venture, which is being conceived as a private public partnership (PPP) project, will have an investment in the region of Rs3,000 crore

Currently, the government is in the midst of carrying out further studies on the project. It is expected to have large investments from the private sector, and at the same time, the government will try to rope in more retail investors too into the project.

To a query on the status of several earlier initiatives of KMML that still remain as non-starters, despite huge funds having been frittered away, the minister said, “I know there were a couple of other projects that couldn’t take off in KMML though big money was wasted. We will make sure such things never happen in future.”

Next is a rubber project coming up in Kottayam. This venture has also been conceived as a PPP project on the lines of Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) which has set a successful model to follow in Kerala.

Though the study is in its preliminary stage, it has been broadly decided that the government won’t hold majority stake in the project. “The chief secretary will be submitting the detailed project report on this initiative soon. Here too, we are keen to rope in a large number of private retail investors,” the minister said.

Another ambitious project is coming up in the land being taken over from FACT’s vast land bank. The state is getting around 450 acres of land at a cost of around Rs1,235 crore, to be footed by KIIFB. As per the plans chalked out, this is being developed into a state-of-the-art petrochemical park.

“This can be viewed as a prestigious project from all fronts. We are receiving lots of enquiries from petrochemical majors like BPCL and the likes – I don’t want to reveal all the names for obvious reasons,” the minister said, exuding confidence.

According to sources, the complex being developed in the FACT compound will have other allied industries such as paints, lubricants, etc. setting up shops.

Industries in public sector always posed a multipronged challenge to the five-year alternating governments in Kerala – led by UDF and LDF by turns, being the eye of myriads of controversies involving funds, key appointments, lack of performance, deals, losses and whatnot.

The Industries Minister seems to have girded up his loins to take on all key challenges starting with the turnaround of the loss making units in his stable and also lending a helping hand to the industrial ventures ignored by the Central Government despite being their main shareholder.

Moideen said 14 companies (PSU) have made profit for the last financial year and while many have started making marginal profits; a few others have certainly mitigated their losses.

“I know this is not enough and we have not turned complacent either. When it comes to performance of industries in Kerala, it leaves much to be desired,” Moideen said.

The minister said his department was not sidelining the small industrial units. “In fact, they are confused as to what their real problems are. I am not turning my back against their financial issues which have always been there,” he added.

The government is soon organizing an Adalat of small scale industries in order to talk to them one-on-one and assess their real issues. “We will try to bring in bankers also to these sessions so that they will get an opportunity to listen to small scale industrialists’ financial issues straight from the horse’s mouth,” he said.

 

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