A delegation of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Inc) on Wednesday led by the President Javid Ahmad Tenga called on the Hon’ble Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to bring the following issues and problems require the urgent intervention of the State Government.
The spokesman said that Industrial Package on the pattern of North East, Land Transfer of Zainakote Industrial Estate, Delay in Finalisation of Master Plan, Implementation of Announcements made in the State Budget, Skyrocketing Prices of Petroleum Products, Reports of Construction of Road at Baltal-Amarnath Route, Proceedings to be initiated in Major Gogoi Case, Serious pursuance of meaningful talks with Stakeholders for settlement of the Kashmir Issue, Return of Power Projects from NHPC, Industrial Package on the pattern of North East and Industrial Package on the pattern of North East:-
As already taken up with the Economic Advisor to Ministry of MSME DPS Negi we urge the State Government to strongly push for a scheme on the pattern of the recently approved North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017.
The President, KCC&I Javid Ahmad Tenga stated that the Kashmir Chamber had already taken up the issue with both the State and Central Governments and were hopeful that the State Government would urgently follow-up on this much-needed incentive package for the development of industry in the State.
LAND TRANSFER OF ZAINAKOTE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has since three decades been demanding – from successive governments – retrieval of the HMT land for catering to the needs of local industry in the form of Gem and Jewellery Cluster including Gem and Jewellery Institute as also Integrated Textile Park and catering to local requirements.
The State Government have by a Cabinet Decision transferred land from the Zainakote Industrial Estate to Jammu & Kashmir Industries Limited (JKIL) and the J&K SICOP. We are given to understand that the JKIL– in its undetermined wisdom – have now determined “prospective entrepreneurs” to be the CRPF, SSB and J&K Police and “manufacturing units” to be housing colonies and security camps/barracks. The State Government has not only regularized CRPF but gone one step further by presiding over the “butchering” of any entrepreneurial hopes the local business community and unemployed youth might have harboured. The local entrepreneurs shall now have to set up vibrant business enterprises at places not suitable for housing colonies and security camps. The State Government has stabbed the local industry in the back.
Interests in the Industries and Commerce Department are openly advocating the cause of the giving away prime commercial land at the cost of the local business community. Most of the earmarked estates are being taken over by the government forces. The Industries and Commerce Department seems to be pursuing the integration of security camps in and around all industrial areas as a policy matter. The same modus operandi was used at Ompura Industrial Estate and in other areas too. Government forces are being encouraged to grab the land in and around Industrial Estates and then the State Government regularize the same. Ours is the only State where the available land of Industrial Estates is being openly transgressed upon and these acts have negatively impacted the growth of our economy.
Having said that, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry pledges to bring the whole business community and associations together on the streets to fight for the rights of the tyrannized and resist all policies aimed at crippling the local industry with all the strength at our command.
DELAY IN FINALISATION OF MASTER PLAN
We draw your attention towards the unprecedented delay in finalization of the Srinagar Master Plan. This delay has resulted in complete choking of all legitimate developmental, commercial and infrastructural activities in Srinagar. The development of other important towns and tourist spots also suffered due to similar delays. The inhabitants of the capital city are suffering due to lack of adequate infrastructural growth leading to permanent bottlenecks, jams and congestion of roads.
We express the concern of the business community and urge the State Government to revisit the procedure of drafting of Master Plans which needed to be a time-bound and open exercise.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has already submitted detailed objections and suggestions incorporating the needs and requirements of a vibrant economy for the consideration of the State Government. The delay in finalization has adversely impacted the economic growth of our State and we hope that the Srinagar Master Plan would be finalized without any further delay and would positively address the needs and requirements of the business community.
IMPLEMENTATION OF ANNOUNCEMENTS MADE IN THE STATE BUDGET
We also draw the attention of the State Government towards the need for following up on important announcements made in the State Budget. In this regard, special mention is made of the announcement regarding applicable power tariff to Hotels which was to be put in effect from April 1, 2018. The waiver of interest/penalty on power tariff was also announced. No requisite orders have so far been issued in this regard, which has caused confusion and anxiety amongst the stakeholders.
Similarly, the scheme announced by the Industries and Commerce Department regarding Hotels also suffers from lack of effective implementation which has acted as an impediment in the smooth flow of incentives to the local industries. The Kashmir Chamber urged the State Government to ensure effective follow-up for these critical interventions.
SKYROCKETING PRICES OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS
We express the shock of the business community at the failure of the Government to control the skyrocketing prices of petrol and diesel. In sixteen days there have been sixteen hikes. No heed seems to have been taken of the earlier request of the Kashmir Chamber to review the around 150 per cent State and Central taxes/levies and duties on petroleum products. With the Central as well as the State Government taking no steps to reduce the taxes and duties on petroleum products it appears that the Government and Oil Corporations seem bent upon earning profits to the tune of lacs of crores from the public. Oil Corporations are showing an unprecedented jump in net profits. It is astounding that the Government instead of putting an end to this bizarre plunder appears to be its beneficiary.
For years the Government has benefitted from the fall in crude oil prices and as per reports the entire reduction in the fiscal deficit of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2014 and 2016 could be attributed to the fall in crude oil prices. For years the reduction in crude oil prices was hardly passed on to the consumers. Faulty implementation of demonitisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) has blown a big hole in the pockets of the public and put all domestic economic activity under extreme stress. Businesses have been pushed up against the wall. The Non-Performing Assets (NPA) accounts and bad loans of banks are at an all-time high. The Government can no longer justify exorbitant taxes and needs to immediately bring down the taxes to moderate levels. It is to be appreciated that the petroleum products cater to essential needs of the public and cannot be treated as a profit-earning enterprise which would be equivalent to holding the public to ransom. The petrol bomb needs to be defused.
REPORTS OF CONSTRUCTION OF ROAD AT BALTAL-AMARNATH ROUTE
We want to bring to your kind notice the press reports about the construction of Amarnath Baltal Road which is against not only the environment but also potential issue which can develop into a big problem for the state. In this respect lot of delegations and people have come to our chamber demanding action and in this regard we have already had a meeting with Divisional Commissioner Kashmir who has assured us to appraise the actual situation on ground on which we have requested him to facilitate our visit to that place so that we are in a position to appraise the public about the actual facts to stop any protest etc at the start only so that it does not develop into a big issue and people come on street.
Keeping in view the sensitive nature of the issue and with respect to the religious sentiments and environmental concerns involved, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry is of the considered opinion that maintenance of status quo is the preferred way forward. We welcome the yatris and believe that the yatra should be conducted in all its traditional glory. Any departure would only invite avoidable flaring of passions which serves no purpose except to create a disturbed situation in the Valley and outside as well. We urge the State Government to take up with the Amarnath Shrine Board to ensure that the Yatra is carried out smoothly and without any controversy as has been done since decades. The Yatra should be an occasion to celebrate our communal harmony which needs to be preserved at all costs. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry appeals to the State Government to effectively intervene in the issue and address the concerns of all quarters.
PROCEEDINGS TO BE INITIATED IN MAJOR GOGOI CASE
This another issue for which there is potential of law and order problem if the necessary action is not taken to the accused with the sense of accountability which is the basic reason of problems getting out of hand. As your government has played a proactive role in Kathua Case we expect the government to do similarly in this case. Reports suggest that the public is being harassed by raids and subsequently exploited. All actors in the case need to be brought to book, howsoever high and mighty.
MEANINGFUL TALKS WITH STAKEHOLDERS FOR SETTLEMENT OF THE KASHMIR ISSUE
While appreciating the state government for its initiative for talks which has resulted in the main stakeholders like JRL to acknowledge the possibility of talks. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry supports this initiative and hopes that the State Government will use its influence with Central government to clear all ambiguities which the JRL has pointed out which will be instrumental in peaceful final settlement of Kashmir.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister patiently discussed in detail with the members of the delegation various aspects of above raised issues and assured a positive intervention from the State Government.