5 yrs on, official report on HMT factory land gathers dust
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5 yrs on, official report on HMT factory land gathers dust

Despite a high-level panel of the Industries and Commerce department recommending use of 400 kanal land under HMT factory at Zainakote on Srinagar outskirts “for industrial purposes”, the successive state governments have failed to do so and the prized property continues to remain under the ‘illegal occupation’ of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force.

Despite a high-level panel of the Industries and Commerce department recommending use of 400 kanal land under HMT factory at Zainakote on Srinagar outskirts "for industrial purposes", the successive state governments have failed to do so and the prized property continues to remain under the 'illegal occupation' of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force.

The HMT watch factory was established on sprawling 400 kanal land in 1971 at the Zainakote Industrial Estate. After the outbreak of militancy in 1990 and consequent migration of the outside workforce, the unit became defunct.

However in 2010, the then government headed Omar Abdullah asked the Industries and Commerce Department—vide letter no. IND/NI35A—to constitute a panel to suggest alternate use of land under the HMT factory.

The letter was issued after the Ministry of Heavy Industries—whose subsidiary HMT factory was—asked the state government that they would vacate the property "once the J&K government comes up with a proposal for its alternate use."

Following the then Chief Minister's direction, the Industries and Commerce Department constituted a high-level committee comprising Managing Director SICOP, MD SIDCO and Director Industries Kashmir.

The committee recommended use of the factory land for industrial purposes, stating "it would generate job opportunities for more than 1000 unemployed youth."

 "It is proposed that the available land be handed over to SICOP which is managing the existing industrial estate at Zainakote so that it could be put to bonafide industrial use. As regards the built up infrastructure in the premises, a view has to be taken in conformity with the decisions taken by the Department of Heavy Industry, GOI. The area that would become available for allotment to new entrepreneurs would be approximately 290 kanal on which more than 150 SSI units could come up," the report reads.

It states that land under occupation of HMT is part of existing industrial estate Zainakote spread over 925 kanal land. Out of the said area, 525 kanal is with SICOP and the remaining 400 kanal with HMT. To this extent, therefore, the land use of total area is defined for industrial purposes, the report said.

 "Having regard to the fact that the total land available with SICOP is fully exhausted and apart from the demand by prospective entrepreneurs for allotment of land, the SICOP is also required to upgrade industrial infrastructure for the existing units located in the Estate. This includes a fire station raw material depot, ESI hospital bank etc. To create these important amenities, the land measuring 30 to 35 kanal is required and no land, except the surplus land under possession of HMT, is available," the I&C committee report states.

A senior Industries and Commerce department official told Greater Kashmir that the committee report is gathering dust as the state government has shown no urgency in utilizing the prime industrial land.

"Currently a vast portion of the factory premises is under the occupation of CRPF," he said, adding the government has failed to get land vacated and formally take back its possession from the Heavy Industries Department.

There are 15 building structures in the unit, with premises looking like a mini-township. The factory was once bustling with activities and providing jobs to more than 1000 employees.

However after it turned defunct in 2005, the state government has failed to retrieve the land from the central government which established the Factory—later inaugurated by then Prime Minister.

"After the 2010 mass agitation in Kashmir, CRPF's 44th battalion illegally occupied our factory premises and its major chunk of land without seeking any consent from our management," said an official of HMT.

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