M A I N   N E W S

Woes of Punjab industry-III
Go all out and woo industry
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Political will to promote industry, backed by an industry-friendly policy, is the only way that Punjab can market itself as ultimate investment destination. The need of the hour is to go all out and woo industry, not just by fiscal concessions, but by offering best infrastructure and reducing timelines in getting various departmental clearances for setting up new industry.

Though the political powers often blame the slow investment inflow in Punjab to tax concessions granted to neighbouring hill states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, the fact is that successive governments in Punjab have even failed to exploit its own rich agriculture and textile base to its advantage for attracting related industry. The need now is to take corrective measures and ensure that Punjab does not miss the bus, especially now when FDI is flowing in the country.

Since land availability and its high cost is the biggest impediment to industrial growth in Punjab, the state can actually create its own multi product Special Economic Zones (SEZs) on the land pool that it proposes to create at Rajpura, Ropar, Kapurthala and Bathinda. In these SEZs, the state can invite any industry, be it textile, IT, agro processing or auto components, by allotting land at reasonable price. Industrial investors (both from outside the state and local industry looking at expansion) should also be assured of regular power supply in these SEZs. Till the time the state can itself provide round-the-clock power here, these investors can be wooed with providing subsidised diesel (by reducing VAT on the fuel) for captive power generation here.

But industry will come to Punjab when the state can also offer skilled manpower. For this, there is need to upgrade the existing Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the state by having direct industry - ITI linkage. The course curriculum for these institutes should be re-designed by taking into account the present and future needs of the industry, so that skilled manpower is readily available.

The state will also have to reduce the timelines for granting change in land use to those setting up industrial units. Most industrialists, especially those setting up units in Dera Bassi- Lalru belt rue that it takes several months to get various clearances for change in land use, while in other states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, once an application for CLU is given, the investor gets all clearances within weeks. Also, more accountability and transparency is required in making allotment of industrial sheds in various industrial focal points under the “off the shelf allotment” policy.

The government should have a comprehensive policy for long term utilisation and development of land, clearly earmarking parcels for urban expansion, infrastructure (roads, canals, railways), and industrial use. Along with this, the legal feasibility of resuming land that remains unutilised, needs to be examined. If Punjab wants to regain its position as the highest growing state, it has no option but to promote synergy between agriculture and industry for growth in agro processing, dairying and textiles. Since the raw material for this industry is readily available in Punjab, a great opportunity lies here. The state can promote this industry under the cluster development programme.

With the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery at Bathinda expected to be commissioned this year, the government should create a petrochemical hub near the refinery. Industrial corridors can also be created along the dedicated rail freight corridor, and the state must work for its expansion to Wagah border, so that the Punjab industry can start exports to Pakistan via this route.

Other than attracting new investors, Punjab also needs to rejuvenate the small and medium enterprises in auto components, garments, leather and hand tools industry. For this SME sector to prosper, which comprises the backbone of industry in the state, the need is to attract a big automotive manufacturer, which can act as an anchor unit for these existing smaller units.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |