By Aaqid Andrabi
Srinagar: The government’s move to push forward with setting up of International Trade Center (ITC) at Pampore after a decade of its inception has resulted in doubling the project cost.
Supposed to boost market linkage for Kashmir handicraft, horticulture and floriculture producers, the project under New Delhi funding in 2005 cost Rs 47 crore that now is projected at Rs 100 crore.
Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries here feels that it was quite unfortunate that even with availability of 378 knals of land, besides available funding we could not set this centre, as authorities here failed to prepare its Detailed Project Report.
The only work completed was fencing of the 378 kanals of the acquired land for ITC.
Mushtaq said that KCCI urged the authorities to visit and examine how ITC Delhi was set and replicate the same here, however it never happened. He however said that off late the government is again pursuing the proposal.
Shailendra Kumar, Commissioner Secretary Commerce and Industries J&K said that delays have been there, but the government now has proposed setting a J&K Trade Promotion Organization (JKTPO), which will overlook the project and related activities besides being a fund partner in of the project.
He said that non-availability of the DPR of the said project led to the delay.
“The initial estimated cost of the project was 47 crores, but given that cost has almost doubled GoI stalled the project in 2016,” he said adding that now all the stake holders on-board and we are quite optimistic about the project being implement soon. In this new set organization the state government will have a stake of 51%, with India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) Delhi supposed to keep 44% of the shares and the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) having 5%. He said that the project will give boost to the state’s horticulture, floriculture trade and artisans and other skilled section of the valley would also reap benefits from the project.
Shailendra said that government plans to begin the work on the project by March 2017 and if everything goes as planned the ITC would be complete by mid-2019.
ITC, upon its completion would be hosting All India and International level exhibitions with Kashmir Haat being the center of attraction.
Kumar added that they are planning to establish an E-Commerce block there as well that will help us to provide and online platform for the rural artisans of the region which shall provide a boost to their produce.