A mountain to climb

  • 30/08/2003

A mountain to climb Cash-strapped Uttaranchal’s industrial policy, unveiled last month, primarily aims to create an investor-friendly climate. Nothing wrong with drawing up a roadmap for recovery, except that it makes no reference to a symbiosis between economic activity and environmental conservation. The Uttaranchal government has, within a short span, separately announced a slew of measures to prop up key sectors such as ecotourism, agriculture and mining. Now, an industrial vision is being prepared for the region. In the event that ecological concerns are lost sight of while conducting even this exercise, the forest-rich hill state is sure to find itself on a slippery slope.

The build-up to the proposed transition has been characterised by the state government eyeing big investment, local industry pitching for preferential treatment and experts striking a note of caution. “The authorities have failed to promote local entrepreneurs. Instead, they want the big players to come and resurrect the sector,” laments a Dehradun-based industrialist.

There is no denying that rural and small-scale units, numbering more than 30,000 and 40,000, respectively, have been given short shrift in Uttaranchal. The handloom sector is a glaring example. Though areas such as Ranikhet and Pithoragarh have made a name for themselves as makers of shawls and carpets, yet they are suffering from gross neglect. The path outlined in the new policy, too, leaves them by the wayside.
Tunnel vision Industrial Policy 2003 of Uttaranchal will remain in force for the next five years. It envisages rapid industrial development of the state and lays down a “comprehensive framework” to facilitate the same.

The main features of the plan are:

l To create world-class infrastructure.

l To promote private sector participation in developing industrial estates and growth centres, as well as in generating and distributing power.

l To promote scientific exploitation of mineral resources.

l To provide special attention for setting up industries in remote areas.

Significantly, the document does not so much as mention the word “environment”!

In January, the Union government had also announced a package of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for the state. Coupled with the new policy, these steps offer a bonanza to companies that come forward to set up shop in Uttaranchal

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