VERY IMPORTANT STORY-ASSOCHAM striving for Industrial Revolution in J&K
Vivek Suri | 06 Apr 2008

VERY IMPORTANT STORY-ASSOCHAM striving for Industrial Revolution in J&K Peace Must Follow Prosperity in J & K, says ASSOCHAM Chief VIVEK SURI JAMMU, APRIL 06:

VERY IMPORTANT STORY-ASSOCHAM striving for Industrial Revolution in J&K

Peace Must Follow Prosperity in J & K, says ASSOCHAM Chief

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) today observed that following restoration of normalcy and peace in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, the investment flow has started registering and went up 10 times from US$ 200 million in 2001 to US$ 2300 million in 2007, which is expected to further accelerate in next 5 years.

In view of drastic improvements in the law and order situation of J&K, the ASSOCHAM President, Mr. Venugopal N. Dhoot has urged the central government to extend a special package of Rs. 5000 crore to improve the necessary infrastructure so that investment flows towards J&K fastens both in value and volumes from domestic and overseas industries. 

The demand for the package has been mooted by the ASSOCHAM President, Mr. Dhoot to Union government, requesting it to allocate the suggested package to state of J&K through the Planning Commission.

Releasing the ASSOCHAM Special Publication on “Jammu & Kashmir: Striving for Industrial Revolution” at a press conference held here at Jammu here today, after it was submitted to the State Chief Minister, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, its President Mr. Dhoot said ”peace must follow prosperity in Jammu & Kashmir now by attracting huge investments from Indian Inc. and overseas”. 

According to the study, the most promising areas in which J & K can attract outside investments include Food Processing- agro-based industries, Floriculture, Handicrafts, Leather Processing and leather goods, besides Sports, Forest-based industry, Processing of aromatic plants and herbs, Pharmaceuticals based on herbs, Bulk drugs, Hosiery and made-ups. 

The state also offers immense business opportunities in hydropower generation, handloom and handicraft exports, gems & jewelry and development of tourism.  Given the rich heritage and availability of required skills in gems & jewellery, the state offers to be a promising hub for the industry.  It also holds ample potential to cater to the growing domestic and international demands in various other areas of food processing sector.

Referring particularly to hydro potential, Mr. Dhoot said that the J&K hydel potential is estimated about 15,000 MW of which only 4% has been harnessed as the state only generates over 600 megawatt of hydro power. The Central Electricity Authority has already approved 2 hydroelectric power generating projects. The state has also cleared the setting up of about 12 mini hydel plants.  What is needed is their immediate execution.

The study projected investments in about more than a dozen identified areas, job opportunities to the extent of 25 lakh youths with export potential of Rs.13,000 crore by 2012.

In food processing and agro based industries, investment potentials for 2012 is estimated to be Rs.3000 crore with its export potential of Rs. 2000 crore.  This sector alone is going to create livelihood for state’s 3 lakh people.

In a view to promote investment and Golf in the valley, the Chamber will host a `Golf Tournament’ during September/October 2008. The tournament will be played between India’s top CEO’s and the local businessmen in Gulmarg and it will generate a good deal of confidence among investors and tourists as well, said Mr. Dhoot.    

The Kashmir valley also holds the opportunity to become a destination for adventure Sports like trekking, mountaineering, water skiing and river-rafting. While the places like Ladakh will be the ideal destination for trekking and mountaineering, rivers like Beas, Indus, Sutlej and Kali Ganga will be the best suited for river rafting, further reveal the study.

The study also recommended that the state should create a `Jammu & Kashmir Export Promotion Force’ to tap the potential international markets by way of opening up of  various strategic and marketing offices in the metropolis and industrial cities of India and world to promote its

The state has the potential to export Rs. 13000 crore worth of goods in the next five years. The potential sectors for export include Processed food, Fruit juice concentrate, Leather products, Handicrafts, Silk and silk, Herbs and herbal products products, Honey, Welding electrodes, Pesticides, Floriculture, sports goods, Forest based products, Gems & jewellery and Electronics.

Jammu & Kashmir stands amongst the top five smaller states in various developmental and infrastructural indicators and holds 3rd rank in electricity generation, labour cost per worker, and number of technical institutes. It has also 4th rank in infrastructure expenditure amongst the smaller states and has 5th rank in FDI inflows and number of primary schools in the state. Whereas the state has the 6th rank in the female labour participation, it has 7th rank in fiscal deficit, total investments in the state (8th rank), industrial workers (8th rank), per capita SDP growth (11th rank), and growth in manufacturing employment (13th rank)./

By reviving the State’s tourism industry, it can re-establish rendered unemployed youths through creation of infrastructure facilities such as modern bus and rail services and if feasible air services also, foreign and domestic tourists could be attracted for the picturesque beauty, large natural lakes, snow clad mountains surrounded by thickly populated pine forests could make J & K as a prime tourist destination in the world.
The  state government should adopt the successful models of tourism
destinations like Switzerland and other EU countries.

Agriculture is the predominant sector in the economy of Jammu and Kashmir.
Directly and indirectly, it supports about 80 per cent of the population
besides contributing nearly 60 per cent of the state revenue. ASSOCHAM
Study has further suggested that the state government should plan for
higher production and productivity of each major cereal in order to
achieve an annual agricultural growth rate of 3 to 4 per cent.

The state government should also provide adequate training to farmers
about the use of modern technology in agriculture. One important aspect
for the increase in productivity is the adequate credit to the farmers
which is not significant in the state. The state should initiate this
through the nationalized banks, so that the cultivators get adequate
finance on credit for agricultural development. The state government
should also adopt a suitable crop insurance scheme. By adopting these
initiatives, it would further strengthen the confidence of the farmers.

The ASSOCHAM study has also emphasized that the government should also provide
infrastructure to private investors to set up agriculture and
biotechnology research institutes as the state has the potential for the
cultivation of medicinal plants for natural health care. The state has
extensive inland water bodies, particularly in the valley, which provide
excellent habitat for almost any kind of temperate fish.