THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The suicide of an industrialist at his business establishment in Veli on Thursday allegedly due to the harassment of the District Industries Centre (DIC) officers sheds lights on the legal tangles budding entrepreneurs face in the state. Entrepreneurs close to the deceased E P Suresh said the Thrissur native had been running a firm Metacare Aluminum Pvt Ltd. He had been going from office to office since 2016 to change the constitution of his business firm, from a private to a partnership firm. But the DIC asked him to pay a lease amount of around `63 lakhs for the 10 cents he was provided by the government to get it changed.
Abraham Jacob, former president of Kerala State Small Industries Association, said when an entrepreneur is given land by the government on a 99-year lease to start ventures, he would naturally invest huge amounts in it to stay afloat amidst the competition. “But when the private firm is unable to survive in the stiff competition, is it right to charge an amount which is in proportion to the booming real estate rates to just change its constitution?” he asked.
Abraham also cited an example of an entrepreneur who invested crores in a remote place allotted to him at an industrial estate. There were no houses in the vicinity when he began the venture. But after a few years, the local body in which he had registered cancelled the firm’s registration after people who settled in nearby areas in the following years, complained against the company. Even now, the state is not as entrepreneur-friendly as claimed by the government, allege entrepreneurs.
R Ramesh Chandran, general manager, DIC, said the suicide was unfortunate. In fact, there are some discrepancies in the fair value fixed as per the Lease Rule. The fair value was a bit high in the industrial area, following which Suresh was billed such a big amount. He could have given an appeal to higher authorities seeking to reduce the fair value rates, said Ramesh.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said action should be taken against those responsible in the incident after holding a fair probe. It is very unfortunate an entrepreneur had to commit suicide at a time when the government passed around six bills to make the state entrepreneur friendly, he said.
Fellow entrepreneurs and employees took Suresh’s cortege to the DIC’s office in the morning and placed his body at the industrial estate in Veli for the public to pay homage. Later, his body was taken to Thrissur as he was staying here in a rented house.