Srinagar: The Mehbooba Mufti government told the legislative assembly on Wednesday that the controversial New Industrial Policy which allows land in Jammu and Kashmir to be leased to outsiders for up to 90 years has already been implemented in the state.
Minister for industries and commerce Chander Prakash Ganga said in the legislative assembly that the policy was approved during Governor’s rule early this year and it was not put on hold as the government was “satisfied” with it.
“This policy is presently working in the state. When Naeem sahib (Naeem Akhtar) asked us how the policy was framed, I told him that it was framed according to the Land Grant Act. He was satisfied and we continued with it,” said Ganga, while speaking in the House on allocation of grants to the industries and commerce department.
Last week, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti told the House that the government was reviewing the new policy for removing misconceptions. Before her, government spokesman Naeem Akhtar had admitted that “certain things” in the policy needed reconsideration.
The New Industrial Policy was met with protests from the state’s industrialists, civil society, opposition, and resistance groups. Akhtar had said that the cabinet would take the final call after the industries department reviews the policy for the period 2016-2026. The policy allows state industrial authorities to acquire land and then lease it out to non-state subjects for up to 90 years, a clause that industrialists, pro-freedom leaders and civil society groups have condemned for diluting the state’s special status.
Ganga said in the assembly that the policy does no harm to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Don’t make it an issue,” Ganga told the Opposition members.
National Conference legislator Ali Muhammad Sagar, who had asked the government to come clear on the policy while moving a cut motion, said that the government was misleading the House by issuing contradictory statements over the policy.
“Naeem sahib said that the government has put the New Industrial Policy on hold while you are saying that it has been implemented. Aap ki aapas main nahi banti to aap humein kyun blame karte hain,” Sagar said.
He accused the government of clandestinely implementing the policy without taking the Opposition and stakeholders into confidence.
“Naeem Akhtar addressed the PDP vote bank and the Industries Minister is addressing the BJP vote bank,” Sagar said.
“You (PDP-BJP) are satisfied so you have implemented the industrial policy. In the garb of public-private partnership your government is going to lease land to non-locals which is direct interference with the special character of the state,” Sagar said.
The Azadi camp had united over the issue of the New Industrial Policy and called for a joint agitation against it.