Fate of the puffed ‘Dry Port’ in Jammu

So, perhaps not striking a pessimist chord but on expected lines, setting up of the much hyped Dry Port has run into rough weathers to an extent that the original idea could possibly be shelved. Jammu and Kashmir has been not even at the bottom line of reaping the harvests of the Foreign Direct Investment as compared to other states which is largely responsible for a conservative inelastic jobs opportunities and the unemployed youth are found interested in or heavily relying upon Government jobs only. Opportunities for Government jobs has been affected by the law of diminishing returns decades back. Hence the need to go in for massive FDIs and private investments in the state is the dire need of the hour. Moreover, local industrialists expected redemption in more than one ways with setting up of Dry Port as the input costs of production would have been drastically reduced as huge transportation and other allied costs would have been cut to a larger extent. The foreign firm Dubai Ports Group with a track record of wider exposure in international market with 50 firms in 40 countries could have been a game changer with joint venture participation to help sprouting of inland logistic hubs in both the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Joint ventures, in addition to direct FDIs and Private Investments are loaded with greater opportunities to boost the state economy and generate avenues of employment. A massive dose of Rs.1500 crores as FDI was expected in setting up of a Dry Port in Samba which as back as in late 2018 itself faced certain humps as the land allocated by the State Government was not approved by the joint venture partner Dubai Ports Group at a crucial time when preparations were afoot for finalising a written agreement. How the proposal was pursued further from that point and which particular efforts were made by the State Government as also by the Jammu and Kashmir State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO) may not be necessarily enumerated but the other end of the tunnel has finally been found darker. That, the very idea has been shelved is self explanatory which depicts and narrates the whole story. In short, the chapter of the joint venture with a foreign company stands closed, at least in this important project.
It is, however, a seemingly welcome step that a situation like hoping against the hope is tried to be averted by going ahead with the project through the SIDCO. The question, however, is as to whether the SIDCO is technically matured enough, now to step in the shoes of the Dubai Ports Group and whether any cogent plan or strategy has been evolved. It is noteworthy and a sufficient material for a case study as to how minute and invisible micro endowments are given such importance to see revenues or profits surged on a gradual and continuous way that the foreign firm under reference, rejected the site of 400 acres of land offered by the State Government on the plea that it was just 4 kilometres far from the nearest Railway Station. Knowing how much ‘fast’ things move at our administrative levels and how much initiatives are taken, the project otherwise carrying lot of hopes was never bothered to see its way through and reportedly no follow up or any further talks with the Dubai Ports Group took place resulting in the project succumbing to all these strains and neglect, if not abject recklessness.
Let it be seen as to what is now planned and how fast the project is expected to come into existence by the efforts of the SIDCO and the State Government jointly. Let the project be explored to be set up under Public Private Partnership or (PPP) mode so that the hopes attached with the original plan and mode do not get dashed. It, therefore, remains to be seen as to what is done in the subject matter especially under changed and better political conditions in Jammu and Kashmir promising good and optimistic results.