Rescuing the existing industrial units
The Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Policy 2021-30 has come into effect on April 1, 2021. Though the new policy is yet to show its dividends, the authorities are of the opinion that it will give boast to industrial sector and subsequently to the economy besides generating employment. They assert that the policy is aimed at creating a conducive ecosystem for industry, which attracts investments in focused sectors leading to sustainable, equitable, and balanced industrial development. This will help creating employment opportunities for the youth, income generation, and overall development of the region. The policy intends to provide a regulatory environment within a supportive framework of ease of doing business. As per concerned authorities, since the inception of the policy, they have received around 2500 applications for allotment of land at different estates in Kashmir Division. These applications are with proposed investment of around Rs. 15000 core, and employment generation of approximately 50,000 people. In this regard, the land appraisal and the allotment process is going on. The eligible units under manufacturing and service sector will be granted incentives under New Central Sector Scheme for Industrial Development of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the industrialists (owners of existing industrial units) claim that there is nothing this new policy for the existing industry, rather it is meant for the new investments and industrial ventures. They claim that the existing industries are in grave distress as 85% of the existing industrial units in the Valley might be closed down by March next year if the effective masseurs are not taken by the government. They have been asking the government for inclusion of existing industrial units into the recently-launched Rs 28,400-crore central industrial scheme. They question that if the government is not able to take care of the distressed existing industry, how can a prospective entrepreneur, or a prospective industrialist trust the newly announced policy? All the existing industrial units are the outcome of the earlier policies. From time to time, the governments, that be, had promised the industrialists moon and stars but post abrogation of article 370, the existing units of the industry have been deprived of many incentives and concessions which were promised in earlier policies.
Though the new policy was welcomed by would-be entrepreneurs, steps need to be taken to make it promising for the existing unit holders. The government can’t afford encourage those who want to venture into industrial sector but allow the existing industries to collapse. The industrialists have been approaching all forums of the government from Srinagar to New Delhi. They need to be listened to and the government should come forward for their hand-holding. Industries here have been grappling with not much industry-friendly atmosphere in terms of difficult terrain with no proper connectivity. Due to the fragility of Jammu-Srinagar national highway, industrialists here don’t have easy access to the raw material. The electric power shortage is another area that troubls the industries here. In this backdrop, the UT government should engage with the Kashmir based industrialists and while encouraging new industries to come up, should do anything and everything to save the existing industrial set-up.