Existing industrial units need attention

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The Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Policy 2021-30 came into effect on April 1, 2021. Though the new policy is yet to show its dividends fully, 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 more than 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 in 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 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.

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 to only 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 and electricity crisis. 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 troubles 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.

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