Punjab's border districts await Industrial revival

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Amritsar, Apr.4 (ANI): Though the industrial sector of Punjab is registering progress despite the much talked about global slowdown, industrial units in the border areas of Punjab, once hit hard by terrorism and neglect, want the government to take proper steps to revive the sector.

Industrialists in Punjab's border areas, in particular, today rue that no political party has ever chosen a border area for mega projects that could generate employment.

The business community of the border district of Amritsar alleges that political parties have neglected the area.

The section of a freight corridor from New Delhi to Jalandhar and the withdrawing of a dry port project at Amritsar are some of the irritants stated by people here.

Criticising the Central and State Governments for not taking measures to bail out industry, Gunbir Singh, State chairman of CII says that Amritsar, which was once known as an industrial hub of the textile Industry of the north India, has lost its pristine glory.

Singh says that nothing effective has been done to revive the sick industry of the area and there has not been any visible effort been made to ensure employment for the youth of the border area.

Gunbir adds that due to increasing unemployment in the border districts of Punjab, the youth of the area are getting involved in drug drafting.

He says that almost all industrial units have closed down.

Kamal Kishore Aggarwal, President, Amritsar Focal Point, says to develop an industry cluster in Amritsar, political parties have made lots of promises time and time again, but in reality, nothing has been done.

"We are still waiting for the new industrial policy of the state. During the last ten years, over 13,000 units had to close down due to anti-industrial policies of the State government," Aggarwal said.

"If we compare with the facilities provided by the neighboring states of Punjab, our state is far behind in providing a helping hand to Industry," Aggarwal says while adding that even when anyone needs to get certification for his product with an ISI mark, he or she has to get the certificates from other State, as we don't have the said lab in Punjab.

A large number of industries have shifted over the years to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana since they have been offered various tax benefits besides other needed facilities.

Various industries in border areas have also shifted to other States having let down by the government's assurance of giving subsidies here.

Carpet industry, which has been a cottage industry in the border areas of Amrisar, is one such industry, which has today become almost non-existent here.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Member of Parliament of Bharatiya Janata Party from Amritsar, says if the party returns to power, he will concentrate on the major issue as bringing the freight corridor up to Amritsar in two months and also to set up Information Technology Park to meet the international demands. He also said he would also promote Amritsar as a tourist hub.

While Om Parkash Soni, the Congress party's candidate from Amritsar for Lok Sabha elections, has promised that he will bring back those industries of the area who had to shift to other neighbouring states just because of some tax benefits.

Soni also gave assurance that he would get tax holidays for facilitating the industrial units and reviving the cottage industry of border area besides getting big packages and special benefits from the Central Government so that more employment could be generated here.

"I will revive this industry and revive employment in rural areas," said Soni. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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