Is Kashmir Getting ‘Industrialised’? 31 Companies ‘Reach Out’

In the meantime, the existing industrial units have incurred a loss of around Rs 30,000 crore since 5 August.

3 min read
Manufacturing process at a factory. Image used for representational purposes.

Weeks after the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre abrogated Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, as many as 31 companies from other parts of India, have submitted Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to the state government, to set up their units in the Valley.

According to official documents, companies belonging to the following sectors are interested in setting up their units in Kashmir: defence, skills and education, tourism, IT & technology, infrastructure, renewable energy, manufacturing, hospitality.

The interested companies have also demanded five to fifteen-year tax holidays. Sources said the state administration has almost finalised the proposal, and was in the process of identifying land to set up the new companies.

At least 250 kanal (1,26,464 sq m) of land is required to set up these units. As per the agreement, the companies have to hire 80 percent local staff and 20 percent non-local staff.

Total Cost of Upcoming Projects in Kashmir Valley Estimated at Rs 12,688 Cr

The sources said the land acquisition would be based on a lease agreement, and no companies would buy the land permanently. Sources also said that the government was exploring custodian, state development authority (SDA), and kachra land across the Valley.

The total cost of the projects has been estimated at around Rs 12,688 crore.

Among the 31 companies that have shown interest in setting up their units are Reliance Ammunition Ltd, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd, Krishna Hydro Projects Pvt Ltd, Universal Success Enterprises (Singapore), Indian School of Business, Bestech India Private Limited, LM Energy and Software Pvt Ltd, Shree Cement Ltd, Indivillage Tech Solutions LLP, and CVK Group.

The government is also holding its first J&K Investor Summit in mid-November, with an objective to bring together investors, decision-makers, senior government officials, and the local business community, for a dialogue on concrete investment opportunities in the state.

Through the investor summit, the government aims to bring in investment commitments of more than Rs 1 lakh crore.

Govt to Set Up 12 New Industrial Estates in Kashmir Valley

Sources revealed that the government is also setting up 12 new industrial estates in the Valley to boost the region’s economy. Meanwhile, at a time when the government is trying to attract big-ticket investments to Jammu & Kashmir, the existing industrial units have incurred a loss of around Rs 30,000 crore since 5 August.

The economic activities in the state came to a grinding halt after New Delhi’s 5 August announcement to do away with Article 370. Director, Industries and Commerce, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, said that the closure of industrial units at industrial estates had allowed for huge losses to the MSME sector.

“The existing industrial units in Kashmir, which have been doing good business, incur almost Rs 600 crore losses per day due to the continuous shutdown,” he said.

Kashmir has 14 industrial estates housing about 21,000 industrial units which generate regular employment for around 1 lakh youth, while these units also absorb around 7 lakh contractual employees. Most of the units also employ non-local labourers for various jobs.

Existing Industries in the Valley are Languishing

As per the government’s advisory the day before Article 370 was scrapped, non-local labourers, who form the major chunk of the workforce at the industrial estates, left the Valley, leaving the industrial units defunct.

The industrial units mainly house cement production, food processing, milk production, mineral water, electrical and electronic, IT and other service-based industries.

A unit holder at Rangret Industrial Estate, wishing not to be named, said they had shifted some of the staff to Bangalore to keep their company afloat.

“We have an IT company providing services to the clients from India and other countries. Our operation is entirely dependent on the internet, which has been snapped since 5 August. We are incurring huge losses and also losing clients, to whom we can’t provide regular services. Snapping of internet has badly affected us,” he said.

Though the State Level Bankers Committee on 10 September recommended extension in the repayment of loans by three months, the industrialists have termed it “too little for their unending losses”.

A unit holder at Khonmoh Industrial Estate said his company was at stake, and it had remained completely shut since the government clamped restrictions and snapped all communication lines. “Extension in repayment of loans is no relief,” he said. “Under the current lockdown, we haven’t been able to do any business activity.”

Junaid Kathju is a Kashmir-based journalist and tweets at @junaidkathju.)

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