J&K industry leaders demand special dispensation

Various industry leaders of Jammu and Kashmir have demanded a separate policy for the union territory keeping in view the extraordinary circumstances faced by the local industrialists.

Representatives of various trade/industrial organisations participated in a webinar session with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday during which the demand was raised.

“The Centre will have to take prompt steps to save the dying industrial sector of Jammu and Kashmir and to address the growing unemployment,” the representatives told Sitharaman.

The session was organised by Satish Mahaldar, Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Peace Forum.

A statement issued by Mahaldar said Sitharaman told the participants that the Centre was keen to listen and understand the ground situation as that helped in formulating policies.

“We are interacting with all the stakeholders in the industry and we have been benefitted from this. We want to keep our ears close to the ground and based on the inputs from various stakeholders, policy changes are made,” the Finance Minister said.

Sitharaman said that she met the new Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha who also spoke about greater support and more resources for the union territory.

Mahaldar told the participants: “The primary objective of the meeting was to primarily understand how we can achieve sustainable industrial development in all regions for increasing the rate of growth, value of output, employment, income and overall economic development of the union territory.

“The trend in the development of Jammu and Kashmir is not encouraging; it has been lagging behind most of the states with regard to the growth of the net state domestic product at current prices. J&K UT is one of those regions in the country where both the demographic situation and level of socio-economic development remains far from satisfactory.

“It is important to discuss how to revive potential viable sick industrial units so as to put optimum use of the capital and other resources which are already employed in such enterprises. It is important to know from the industry experts how we can strive towards balanced economic and social development in all regions of the UT by promoting industrialization”.

Those local industrial sector representatives who participated in the webinar included Sheikh Ashiq, president of Kashmir chamber of commerce and industry; Javaid Ahmad Bhat, president of Sopore industrial association; Lalit Mahajan, Bari Brahmana Industrial Association president; and Wajahat Durrani, president J&K PSU employees.

Ashiq said the local industrialists had met Sitharaman on March 17, but nothing much happened after that meeting.

He hoped that since unlocks were happening now things will improve.

“Incentives were urgently needed for the revival of the industry in Jammu and Kashmir. The past year has seen a lot of suffering, unemployment is growing, artisans don’t have much work, industries and MSMEs are in bad shape. A pile up of inventories has been happening.”

Top industry bodies of Kashmir have expressed their willingness to help in the economic development of the distressed Kashmiri Pandit migrant community.