Will Kashmir ITC ever be a reality?
4 years on, no headway on prized project
Srinagar, June 24: Despite severe criticism from stakeholders and the Government of India, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has not moved beyond laying the foundation stone of the much-hyped International Trade Centre (ITC) at Pampore on the Srinagar outskirts. The foundation of the mega project, which could have given a considerable fillip to the trade and tourism sectors in the state, was laid in 2007. And since then, the project has become a victim of official apathy.
The idea to have an ITC in Kashmir dates back to 2005 when, after a proper survey, the then government identified around 378 kanals of land at Pampore for the purpose. The land, which belonged to the Ply Board Factory of the JK Industries, was allotted for the ITC construction in the same year vide a cabinet decision. The Union Ministry of Commerce agreed to fund the project, originally restricting the funding to Rs 15 crore.
Following this, the India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and gave a presentation to the then Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, in 2007. The total project cost was around Rs 58 crore, minus some proposed state-funded mini projects, which could have taken the cost to over Rs 100 crore. The Union Ministry agreed to fund the project up to a revised cost of Rs 30 crore and released an initial grant of Rs 5 crore to the state under the Assistance to States for Infrastructure Development and Exports (ASIDE) scheme. The state Planning Department agreed to contribute the remaining Rs 28 crore for the project. This led to laying of the foundation stone by then Union Minister of State for Commerce, Jairam and then state Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
ASIDE scheme is aimed at providing funds to State Governments/Union Territories for export promotion. It encourages the State Governments/Union Territories to promote exports by creating appropriate export infrastructure and by providing facilitation for export promotion.
Ramesh, according to sources, got the allocations enhanced. But an official apathy of sorts followed.
When this newspaper reported the issue in November last year, the concerned authorities promised to finish all the formalities “soon” and start the construction work. But till date, the promise remains unfulfilled.
According to sources, while the state government has, after a delay of over three years, been able to get the license for ITC from the Ministry of Commerce, it is yet to get the mandatory Special Purpose Vehicles registered.
The SPV has been incorporated under Section-25 of the Companies Act. It simply means that the company will not pay profits to the shareholders. “If Rs 30 crore is given by the central government and Rs 28 crore by the state, profit will not go to shareholders but will take care of the developmental works,” the sources said. For this a board needed to be constituted and got approved at different levels.
ITC was supposed to be completed in 2010 itself to hold big exhibitions in Kashmir in the wake of high temperatures outside the Valley in summers. The proposed ITC included a Mini Pragati Maidan on the pattern of New Delhi with an attached Five-Star Hotel at the later stage. “Its location was proper in the sense that it had direct road connectivity with the Srinagar International Airport via Nowgam-Bye-pass and was also located on Srinagar-Jammu highway,” the sources said. “Had the project taken off, it could have undoubtedly given a huge fillip to the trade and tourism sectors in the state.”
The Director, Handicrafts, Meraj-ud-Din Kenu told Greater Kashmir that the department has got the requisite license from the Ministry of Commerce. “The SPV shall also be registered within a week’s time,” he said. “We will start the walling and construction work immediately after that.”
GOVT CUTS SORRY FIGURE
Highly placed sources said the state government has cut a sorry figure before the Ministry of Commerce for delaying the project.
Sometime back the Ministry had given the government two options with regard to the money that has been released for the project. “First, it has asked us to urge the state government to use the money as soon as possible. And second, if it fails to do so, shift the money to some other project,” sources said.
Sources said the Ministry officials took a strong exception to the non-utilization of the money for ITC. They sought refund or diversion of the money in case the state doesn’t utilize it on the project.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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4 years on, no headway on prized project
Srinagar, June 24: Despite severe criticism from stakeholders and the Government of India, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has not moved beyond laying the foundation stone of the much-hyped International More