KOLLAM: Nearly 3 lakh employees with the private cashew sector in the state are jobless as some 750 out of total 824 factories remain closed due to financial constraints. A considerable number of entrepreneurs who have invested in small scale cashew processing units have also fallen prey to the crisis that have gripped the industry for the last two years. The accounts of nearly 100 factories have been declared NPA (non-performing asset) by banking agencies and many more are to join the bandwagon.
Kollam district, which was once cited as the cashew capital of India, alone has nearly 400 factories shut in the process. The entrepreneurs face revenue recovery procedures as the repayment of loans have been stalled due to lack of revenue. The investors are in the verge of suicide and many of them tried to prove it literally, while two of them really succeeded. Omanakkuttan alias Satyan, 50, of Sree Narayana Puram in Puthoor, the owner of Thankam Cashews, committed suicide by jumping in front of a moving train at Chandanathoppe here on May 18. He was a victim of financial liabilities that was incurred in operating the cashew factory, the relatives alleged. Earlier, Radhakrishna Pillai alias Mani of Chothi Cashews at Randam Kutty committed suicide some four months back. It is learnt that he had a debt of nearly Rs. 24 crore with Kollam branch of Punjab National Bank.
Meanwhile, two cashew owners were saved in the nick of time during their attempts to commit suicide within three months. A cashew factory owner hailing from Chandanathoppe in Kollam attempted suicide as he faced revenue recovery threats for his debt to the tune of Rs 7.5 crore with the Karnataka bank. Five factories under his company Alfana Cashews which employed close to 800 employees remain shut for more than a year now. Another processor who attempted suicide is from Randam Kutty in Kollam having a default of Rs 4.5 crore. He was also in the verge of revenue recovery proceedings by the Corporation Bank in Kollam.