J&K readying for investments to spur growth: Advisor Sharma
Bengaluru, Feb 19: Jammu and Kashmir is no longer what it was for decades, and is changing and readying itself for investments to spur growth and development, a top official said.
“The overall situation in J&K has changed after August 5, 2019. Things are getting better. As a new Union Territory (UT), we are rolling out a red carpet for investors from across the country to join us in spurring growth and development there, J&K Lieutenant Governor”s Adviser K.K. Sharma told IANS in an interview here.
With the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution and splitting the former northern border state into UTs of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh on August 5, 2019 through an Act of Parliament, the central government has opened up the erstwhile strife-torn state for outside investments in diverse sectors to tap growth opportunities and create jobs for thousands.
“Normalcy is being restored across the UT to create favourable atmosphere for investments in 14 sectors, through incentives, tax reliefs, duty exemptions and single-window clearance for ease-of-doing-business by anyone from any state,” asserted Sharma after a roadshow on Monday for the upcoming J&K Investors Meet in Srinagar and Jammu in May.
Admitting that people outside the region tend to think that the situation in J&K is more acute than what it is or was in the past, the Adviser said that Internet access and mobile connectivity were being restored across the UT in compliance with the Supreme Court directive.
“In addition to restoring communication links, including voice and data, a slew of confidence-building measures have been taken to make the people, especially tourists and pilgrims from elsewhere in the country and overseas, to visit the picturesque region and feel at home, with safety and security at any time,” reiterated Sharma.
The central government had restricted and regulated pilgrimage visiting Vaishno Devi and Amarnath shrines in July before removing the special status on August 5.
“The restrictions are to ensure that the facilities are not misused for promoting disorder by vested interests and anti-nationals. In some months, all curbs will be eased to restore normalcy and connectivity, as the ground situation is reviewed every week or fortnight,” pointed out Sharma.
As the 1983-batch former IAS officer of the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and UT cadre, Sharma was appointed on November 14, 2019 as adviser to Lt Governor GC Murmu of the newly-created UT along with retired IPS officer Farooq Khan, as the other adviser. They both were advisers to then J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik before the state was bifurcated into two UTs.
Noting that the prevailing law and order situation would not continue for long, the former bureaucrat said that the new regime had changed the perception of the people, especially investors, corporates, businesses and traders.
“We want to get going and tell investors what the present dispensation stands for. Investors will take into account how things are in the UT and the impression they are going to get will definitely will be different from what they had in the past for various reasons,” affirmed Sharma.
Unlike in the past, outside investors will be able to buy land, as land status and leases are going to be far more liberal to set up production or processing plants, software and hardware units, private hospitals, universities, food parks, export houses and trading complexes.
“Each policy will be valid for 10 years. Once the policy is finalised, investments under that policy will be guaranteed,” averred Sharma.
For big-ticket investments, the new regime will meet corporate honchos of India Inc in manufacturing and services sectors, including global software majors like TCS, Infosys, Wipro and HCL.
“We will seek appointments with heads of India Inc. not only in Bengaluru, but also in other cities where roadshows for investors” meet are scheduled. The meetings will be held at level of our Lt Governor and top bureaucrats,” said Sharma.
Assuring prospective investors of a very good industrial ecosystem, the adviser said that besides natural and human resources, the UT had a talent pool of IT professionals, apple concentrate plants and steel mills of high quality on par with global best.
“In addition to 6,000-acre land bank, we have developed industrial estates, and ensure salubrious climate, skilled workforce, educated youths, quality power, clean water, fresh air, flora and most hospitable people to make investors feel at home,” Sharma added.