Jalandhar, Oct 12: Once a leading centre of manufacturing sports goods, this city is being fast reduced to a mere 'trading centre' due to raw material shortage, absence of skilled labour, falling profit margins and lack of tax incentives.
The sports manufacturers of the town, instead of making sports goods, are importing it from China or buying from Meerut and pasting their own stamps, in a bid to retain their status.
In view of dwindling business prospects, even the new generation is losing interest in this traditional profession, Vijay Dheer, President of the Sports Goods Manufacturer Association said.
He claimed that most of the sports manufacturers who are producing goods for national market, are the victim of such change, although international manufactures are also reeling under unbridled inflation, shortage of raw material and lack of trained workers.
One of the leading exporters of sport goods especially the bats and hockeys, Rana Raghunath Singh, said. ''to sell sports products in international market, we have no option but to import goods because of the ban on transport of Kashmir willow to other states, which has hit the Jalandhar sports industry the most.'' ''We have been forced to stop booking orders for Kashmir willow bats and were making only English willow bats,'' he said.
Another manufacturers Ravinder Dhir, explained that the business began to decline during the days of terrorism as the skilled workers shifted to other places, mainly Meerut, which is now emerging as a major sports goods market.
He also claimed that sports industry was flourishing in Uttar Pradesh because the state Government gaveiven many tax exemptions, including in VAT, to the sports industry while the Punjab government was levying four per cent VAT.
Even the established businessmen in sports industry are importing goods from China and putting their stamp to stay in business, Mr Dhar revealed.
''If nothing was done soon to help the Jalandhar sports industry from this crisis, many manufacturers will be forced to close shop,'' he said.