Forest Deptt recommends notifying Kashmir's bat manufacturing hub as industrial zone

In order to provide various central and state incentives to the declining bat industry of Kashmir, Forest Department has recommended the willow bat manufacturing areas to be notified as an industrial zone.

As per recommendations of the forest officials, 500 meters along each side of Jammu-Srinagar national highway in the forest area of bat making cluster from Donipora Sangam to Jawbara Awantipora being given industrial status to help declining bat making units witness revival.  

“A joint inspection of the entire cluster area was carried out. Upon interaction with the unit holders of decades old cricket bat manufacturing factories equipped with all types of primary wood-based machines and hand tools, it has been found that the industry exists without any valid licenses under SRO 103 of 2012/DIC registrations and are reportedly rendered ineligible for receiving promotional incentives from the centre as well as state governments leading to illegal export of clefts to rest of the country,” read a recommendation letter to Chief Conservator Forests.

As per an official, decision to recommend denotification of the bat producing hub from the forest department and its recognition as industrial zone was taken after a joint survey of the Forest Department and Department of Industries and Commerce of the area recently.

“The District Industries Centres Anantnag and Pulwama have furnished list of registered units falling under the respective territorial jurisdiction numbering  261 which is a part of the units still unregistered. The entire area in question has spontaneously developed into a natural cluster and abounds with the cricket bat manufacturing units with widespread skill using only willow (Salixilbavar)species or raw material,” read the letter.

As per the official, during the course of field inspection of the bat production area, a large number of local population including unit holders, saw mill owners, skilled workers, next-generation entrepreneurs and unemployed youth approached government urging to notify the area as an industrial zone. “This will help their enterprises to be registered with the Forest Department as well as the Industries and Commerce Department,” he said.

Recently Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce department, Navin Kumar Choudhary visited the bat cluster at Sethar village. He interacted with the bat manufacturers who requested the Principal Secretary to ensure that the cluster gets denotified by the Forest Department. The bat unit holders also apprised Principal Secretary about the problems faced by them. Principal secretary had assured that he will pursue the matter of de-notification with the forest department. Principal Secretary further directed streamlining CFC Bat Cluster which suffered damage in 2014 floods. He directed SICOP authorities to expedite the renovation process and emphasised upon the unit holders to form a cooperative to run the CFC post restoration. A team of officials representing union ministry for Medium Small and Micro Enterprises ( MSME) had also recently visited the Valley to find ways in which support could be extended to the bat industry. Meerut-based Process-cum-Product Development Centre (PPDC) is in process of providing hand-holding support to MSMES in bat production.