Wahid Bhat | Srinagar
Government of Jammu and Kashmir has started identifying land as outside companies who have shown willingness to invest in the region since the reading down of Article 370 of the Constitution.
According to reports so far around 17,000 kanals of government land has been earmarked in regions of Jammu, at least 10,000 kanals of land has been identified in Kathua and Samba districts of Jammu and another 5,000 to 7,000 kanals have been earmarked in Ganderbal, Kupwara and some other districts of Kashmir valley.
Reports said the government has issued directions to all district commissioners, both in Jammu and Kashmir, to submit details about the state land available in their jurisdictions.
A senior official of the rank of secretary in J&K administration said the government wants to first create a “land bank” before opening doors for the outside investors.
“The good thing is that investors are now showing interest to enter Jammu and Kashmir. This wasn’t the case earlier,” said the official. “Once some companies start their operations in J&K, it will encourage other investors to follow. We hope this is only the beginning.”
The official said two of the prospective investors recently visited J&K and had detailed discussions with the government officials on their business plans.
While SIDCO is the nodal agency for promotion and development of medium and large scale industries in Jammu and Kashmir, a high-level official panel with administrative heads of different departments as its members has been tasked to scrutinise each project proposal before vetting them.
According to reports, the government was hoping that the J&K Global Investor Summit, to be held next year, would provide platforms for outside businesses to explore the potential of Jammu and Kashmir in different sectors and plan their investments.
The three-day Summit was scheduled on October 12. But the government postponed it in view of the prevailing situation in the Valley. The situation in Kashmir continues to remain tense even after four months since the scrapping of the state’s special status.
“The programme will play a huge role in lifting the business environment in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. “We will try to rope in more businesses and investors as there is huge potential in different sectors.”
A top business from Kashmir said they were not averse to the government’s plans to attract investments and create a business atmosphere in J&K.
“But there are fears that on the pretext of business and investment the government will hand over the land to outsiders. That will not be acceptable. There is no clarity on how the government plans to go ahead and allow investments,” said the businessman, wishing not to be named.
He said people, as well as the business community of J&K, have never been averse to investment from outside, adding there were provisions for handing over land on lease to outsiders for investment earlier also (prior to August 5). But, he said, the situation has changed now. “Concerns have been raised by people as well as the business fraternity, both in Jammu and Kashmir and so far the government has done little to address these concerns.”