Reviving industries in the State

The first and an important step towards reviving defunct industrial units in the State is likely to begin with the HMT Chinar Watches Limited. In 1975, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi had sanctioned establishment of the first ever public sector watch company in Kashmir. In the proximity of Srinagar on the Zainakot ridge, State Industries Department provided 300 kanals open and 105 kanals built up area for the HMT Chinar Watches Ltd. With the rise of militancy in 1990, the company suffered depletion of trained and skilled manpower and became dysfunctional. The strength of employees came down to bare one hundred hands and their future became uncertain.
However, after decades of neglect and disuse, a ray of hope has become visible with the three-day visit to the valley of 25-member Panel of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industries Sector. The Panel has examined other industrial units in the valley also and has been discussing with state authorities about measures that should be taken to revive the defunct ones or provide incentives for smaller industrial units through financial assistance under various schemes of the Union Government. The Chief Minister has repeatedly emphasized the role of industries in bringing down unemployment among the youth in the State. As such the visit of the Panel is of considerable significance.
The Parliamentary Panel has taken a firm decision in regard to the HMT Chinar Watches Ltd. and has directed its Managing Director that he should either find out a way of reviving the unit to its pre-militancy status and productivity or, in case of being unable to do so, draw a plan of handing over the unit to the Industries Department of the State Government. Since the Commissioner and Secretary to State Industries and Commerce Department was representing the government, therefore its preparedness of taking over the unit was obvious if that was the option. This is a welcome step though belated one. Many years have been wasted and the public sector enterprise has suffered sever losses.
Handing over of the unit to the Government can be a complicated process and needs to be handled with utmost care and consideration. Foremost is the future and interests of the employees of the unit some of whom left with the rise of insurgency and some stayed on. How will be their services and future status determined? If some of them have been adjusted in other unites of HMT, the question is will be offered the option of returning to the parent unit or sever their relations with it for all times. Secondly, the future of nearly one hundred employees still on the rolls of the unit is also to be decided with sympathy and consideration. Nothing should be done arbitrarily and the circumstances through which the employees and the administrative cadres had to go have to be kept in mind. Their legal position, too, has to be taken into account. Transfer of services, assets and liabilities has to be done in accordance with the rules and practices. At the face of it one can say that this is a very realistic and desirable decision taken by the Parliamentary Panel. The important thing is that after the unit has changed hands, it should become fully functional and should also expand to reasonable limits thus providing employment to more people.
After concluding its visit to the valley, the Panel will be in Jammu to make detailed study of industrial units here. By and large, industrial units in Jammu have not been affected so badly by the rise of insurgency during last two decades. But the complaint of Jammu industrial entrepreneurs has been that despite their best efforts the Union Government has not met their needs adequately and many restrictions were imposed that made it difficult for them to make their units viable. Even financial assistance promised under various schemes of the Union Government was niggardly. Now that the Parliamentary Panel will be meeting with the industrialists, representatives of Chamber of Commerce and perhaps also the representatives of Labour Unions, it should be possible for them to make significant recommendations to the State and the Union Government of how industrial health of Jammu region can be given a boost.
In an overall estimation, it is satisfying to note that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industries Sector has focused attention on the industrial health of our State which is far behind many other states of the Union in having viable industries. The Chief Minister is rightly seized of the importance of bringing more industries to the State without endangering its ecological balance. With the visit of the Parliamentary Panel and with their favourable recommendations, the dream of changing the industrial landscape of the State can become true.


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