Minister for Industries and Commerce Mr. Surjit Singh Slathia is the senior face of ruling National Conference in the Jammu& Kashmir. In an exclusive interview with “The Kashmir Scenario” , S.S .Salathia talks to Kaiser A. Mir & Rameez Makhdoomi.
How would you describe your tenure as Industries and commerce Minister?
In my tenure I have tried to develop the industries sector of state so that our people can get benefit from it. Our efforts are to grow the economy of state so the overall development takes place and the people especially the youth gets benefit from it.
What has been done to develop the infrastructure of industrial estates?
As I told you that our aim is to give industries sector a boom. In this regard we try our level best to allocate the available funds so that there is optimum development of industries. We also try to have at least one industrial unit in every district. In the recent past we have given many infrastructural facilities like road connectivity to several industrial units like Khunmouh.
The industrial areas like Rangreth and Bagh-Ali-Mardhan present a gloomy picture. What is your take?
The industrial area of Rangreth is mainly meant for information Technology units. We are in process of developing it and very soon there would be proper land allocation and it would be developed as a modern industrial unit.
What is government doing to revive the sick industrial units?
Sick industries are matter of concern and in Kashmir there are several sick industrial units. Government has announced many schemes Prime Minister for the revival of sick industrial units, but the decision about its implementation is yet to be finalized. But we hope that we wouldn`t see much sick units in future.
Besides there are many industrial units under the occupation of security forces and government is working to move the forces out of industrial areas.
Why J&K does does not possess any Special Economic Zones?
Actually, the establishment of SEZ’s involves a huge amount of financial and land resources. The establishment of a single SEZ involves thousands of acres of land and in an environmentally fragile area like our state we cannot give such huge amount of land to a single SEZ.
Why is J&K Industries as a Premier Public Sector Corporation still running in loses?
The scenario related to industrial activity took a setback in the state owing to turbulent circumstances. This volatile situation has had direct impact on the J& K Industries, but now we have taken different steps to improve the health of the said corporation. Now if you visit J&K industries unit at Raj Bagh and Bemina you would see lot of changes in operation and management.
How do you perceive the chances of NC in upcoming municipal elections in Jammu region?
There is still lot of time to go for the said elections, but whenever they take place National Conference has a strong chance.
What is government doing in order to promote the Handicraft and Handloom sector in the State?
Handicraft and handloom sector are the vital elements of our economy and hence government is taking it on high priority. These two sectors provide employment to many people in rural as well as urban areas. In order to make these sectors to grow we have taken several initiatives like providing skill training, design development, introduction of new looms and techniques to enhance the production. We have established many training centres across state and we are getting very good response from the people.
Besides we have developed an industrial park at Zakura which is exclusively for handloom and Silk Industry. It will prove very beneficial for both these sectors in future.
What role does the institutes like CDI and IICT play?
CDI and IICT are the institutes that provide training and design development in handicraft sector. Both these institutes have shown good results. Now we are coming up with Pashmina testing laboratory which is situated near CDI. It will ensure that only genuine Pashmina is traded and it will benefit the artisan community.
What is being done to boost the export trade of State?
We have taken many initiatives to boost the export trade. Banking is an important element in the export trade and we are trying to establish banking facilities for export traders so that export trade gets enhanced.
How do you see investments from outside the state?
Investment from outside the state would come with the change in the environment because for business a peaceful environment is important. But still we have good investment in industries and it is our priority to give more chance to local investors.