SRINAGAR: The Indian government has not released funds for construction of the International Trade Centre (ITC) at Pampore, even after its budget was scaled down by 60 percent in the detailed project report (DPR). The ITC was conceived in 2005 and its foundation was laid two years later by then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and then Indian commerce minister Jairam Ramesh. The Indian government had first shelved the scheme, then asked for reduction in construction cost. Now the SICOP, the executive agency for the construction of ITC, is awaiting the release of money that the Indian government agreed to.
RL Tickoo, Managing Director of SICOP, told Kashmir Reader that the DPR was sent to the Indian government six months ago, which was accepted. But no money has been released so far.
“There were multiple exchanges of ideas over the DPR. First the cost of the ITC was more than Rs 100 crore. We were asked to abandon some of the parts to reduce its cost. We did, and made it around Rs 40 crore. Yet the project money hasn’t arrived,” he said.
Mushtaq Wani, President of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Kashmir Reader that during the late Mufti Sayeed’s PDP-led government, a special purpose vehicle – a government committee – was constituted for the timely construction of ITC. He said the committee approved SICOP as the construction agency.
“Now months have passed but nothing has happened. The delay is a huge loss for the business community that is facing a crisis ever since floods destroyed our economy,” Mushtaq said. “The KCCI has now written to Chief Secretary BB Vyas about the delay. We are yet to get a response.”
Mushtaq said that the proposed ITC would have multiple stalls, conference halls and food courts. The stalls, he said, would be given to different businessmen for a specific time, as is done elsewhere.
“Trust me, it can be a game changer when it is established. It will give a boost to the economy and make Kashmir open to the world,” Mushtaq said.