Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to ensure that the income tax authorities support the initiative of the state government to revive the now-defunct Nokia manufacturing facility near Chennai.
In a memorandum to the PM, on her first visit to Delhi after assuming charge as chief minister, she said global contract mobile manufacturing company Foxconn has recently come forward to take over and revive the plant.
To enable such a takeover, the Union government would have to facilitate the defreezing of Nokia’s assets, frozen by an order of the Delhi High Court in an income tax case, by arranging for the proceeds of the sale or lease transaction to be paid into a separate escrow account to meet the final tax liabilities.
Such a course of action would ensure that the existing plant is utilised, jobs restored to thousands of people and production commences immediately. “Your direct intervention is essential to ensure that the income tax authorities support the initiative of the state government to revive a global manufacturing facility and restore the electronic manufacturing hub at Sriperumbudur,” Jayalalithaa said.
The Nokia factory at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu was one of the largest manufacturing facilities for mobile phones in the world.
The Tamil Nadu government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nokia on April 6, 2005, and with the support of the state government, a global electronic manufacturing hub was developed.
“Unfortunately, retrospective amendments to tax laws brought in 2012 by the then UPA government forced the Nokia plant to shut down in November, 2014 causing more than 15,000 direct employees to lose their jobs. You had announced in the Rajya Sabha in February, 2015, that the government of India will take all necessary steps to revive the Nokia unit,” she pointed out.
Nokia’s Chennai plant revival plan had gathered steam as the Centre’s fast-track taskforce approached the Tamil Nadu government in August last year, for a suitable package which could make ground for a smooth take-over by third party.
The fast-track taskforce formed by the Centre to revive the mobile manufacturing in the country had requested the Tamil Nadu government to set up a similar committee of the state government to help restart the now-defunct Nokia plant at Sriperumbudur as well as to revive the electronic production ecosystem.
The high-level team of the task force, headed by its chairman Pankaj Mohindroo, who is also the national president of Indian Cellular Association had met officials of the Tamil Nadu government and sought a package for the revival of the Nokia plant as the state is the highest stakeholder in the issue.