Owing to the physical geography of the Himalayan terrain coupled with poor planning, Industrial growth of our State, Jammu and Kashmir, is behind many other states. State leadership has usually spoken about the need of fuller industrialization of the state as the viable means of providing employment to the educated unemployed and non-skilled workers and labourers.
The Central Government has been extending necessary and possible support and concessions to our industrialists. It has taken a holistic view of many problems of hilly states. As such J&K, Himachal and Uttarakhand are clubbed together for becoming entitled to receive Special Package under Transport Subsidy Scheme. Despite the congenial atmosphere that has prevailed at the level of the Centre in regard to Transport Subsidy Scheme, the package for the three hilly states under Transport Subsidy Scheme. now called by the renewed name of Freight Subsidy Scheme – 2013 have slumped from rupees 1,135 crore in 2015-16 to just rupees 70 crores for the year 2016-17 in respect of three hilly States of J&K, Himachal and Uttarakhand.
The Transport Subsidy Scheme is applicable to three hilly States mentioned above. Road accessibility and transport in these hilly states are not smooth. Transportation charges of the raw material as well as the finished product from and to the rail head in Jammu are heavy which the small industrialists are usually unable to pay. This part of their commercial activity used to be subsidized by the Government and the subsidy was to the tune of 90 per cent of the actual expenditures incurred.
The benefit of this policy did not reach only the industrialists but mostly to the consumers because it meant enabling the industrialists to face the fierce competition with other producers and suppliers.
Now the situation is that with drastically reduced subsidy in transportation, serious challenge is to be met by the industrialists. They will not be able to compete with other industrialists to whom transportation of goods is much less expensive. This decision of the Government is going to adversely affect thousands of families in the State.
The industrialists have a genuine concern and they should plead their case. They should meet with State authorities and also concerned ministry in New Delhi and put forth their problems in National perspective.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by Chandan Mitra, has taken a serious note of the decision of the Government to reduce subsidy drastically and has highlighted the undesirable impact it will have on the industrial climate in these States. A case like this ought to be taken up with the Finance and other Ministries at the Centre.