After staying defunct for over three decades the once prized Silk Filature at Solina, Rambagh is back in business, thanks to the efforts of Shailendra Kumar, Commissioner Secretary, Industries and Commerce.
Jammu & Kashmir Industries (JKI) were highly reputed and glorious at one point of time before it went into oblivion. When Kumar took over, he realised that if proper resources are invested, Solina can be turned into a profitable venture. He got World Bank to fund Rs 12 crore, besides support from the Central Silk Board in bringing the industry back to life. Kumar argued that the closure of these mills directly affected livelihood of 50,000 women, who reared cocoons. Kumar made his intent clear that he is not seeking funds to upgrade the facilities only, but to help these women earn their livelihood. Plus, once the mills would run at full capacity, it would help consume entire produce of local raw material, which till now ended up in outside markets on cheaper rates. Kumar’s efforts bore results as World Bank agreed to fund the projects in silk.
As of now Solina, which was in dilapidated condition with rusted machines, was successfully revived. It is functional now. In 1897, the Silk Factory was established with the help of Sir Thomas Wardle, President, Silk Association of Great Britain. Wardle was highly impressed by the quality of Kashmiri silk yarn.
On the other hand Kumar’s team is working to revive Nowshehra mill, which he says would be functional by November 2018.
A 1995 batch IAS officer, Kumar’s journey in Kashmir started as Sub District Magistrate Baderwah in 1997. After spending two years in the region, he was posted as Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Udhampur. One year later, he was posted as Deputy Commissioner (DC) Doda, then DC Udhampur, DC Anantnag, DC Srinagar in 2003.
In 2005, Kumar was appointed as Special Secretary Power. Then he had a brief stint as Managing Director of State Road Transport Corporation. In 2006, Kumar was appointed as Special Secretary to Chief Minister, while being Managing Director of Power Development Corporation.
In 2007-08, Kumar was appointed as Secretary Public Works Department. After that he was sent on a Government of India deputation. Once back in 2013, he became Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. Just before the devastating floods hit Kashmir, Kumar was appointed as Commissioner Secretary Tourism. But it is Kumar’s stint as Commissioner Secretary Industries, since October 2015, which brought him into the limelight, as he did, what has been tipped as unthinkable by reviving the much loved Solina Filature. Shaded by mighty Chinars, the noise of machines in Rambagh, is nothing less than music to ears for silk lovers.
– Shams Irfan