‘Work halted by change in schemes’
Pampore: Eleven years after its foundation stone was laid, the International Trade Centre (ITC) at Pampore-aimed at exposing local traders to the international markets-has remained a non starter.
So far only a boundary wall has been raised on the demarcated land.
A foundation stone to the prestigious project was laid back in 2007 by the then Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and the Union Minister for Trade and Commerce in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Jai Ram Ramesh.
The project estimated at around 29 crore rupees was aimed at getting international buyers for handicrafts and agricultural products like saffron at the door step of the traders.
The project was granted to J&K under the Government of India’s Assistance to States for Development of Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities(ASIDE) scheme.
Around 5 crore rupees, as per sources in the Industries and Commerce department, have already been released and the only thing that the state government has been able to achieve all these years was a boundary wall to demarcate the land.
More than 300 kanals of land have already been demarcated by the government for the project.
Local traders rue that they have been denied a platform -which could have been a game changer for their export woes-for the political connotations of it.
“We cannot see any other reason. Any government in Kashmir does not want to carry forward the good work or legacy of its predecessor,” Ghulam Nabi, a saffron trader from Pampore told Kashmir Reader.
He said that all the saffron growers go to Delhi, Mumbai and other parts of India to sell their products and the people there then export it.
The people associated with the handicrafts and other agricultural products have similar compalints.
“It’s not only the saffron growers who face such difficulties. The shawl weavers, the honey producers, the dry fruit producers-everyone could have benefited by the project,” Abdul Khaliq from Pulwama, who is associated with handicrafts sector, told Kashmir Reader.
Besides, the residents in Pampore feel that they have been denied an opportunity to see Pampore develop, around the International Trade Centre.
The people, Kashmir Reader talked to, feel that the project has been shelved once and for all.
The authorities, however, say that the project though not shelved, was interrupted by change of schemes at the centre.
As per the officials the earlier scheme, ASIDE, has been shelved and a new scheme has been launched in its place.
“The earlier scheme, I don’t remember the name of, has been closed. There is a new scheme now called Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) that has been launched,” Shailendra Kumar, Commissioner Secretary to government Industries and Commerce Department, told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the centre had sought a new Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the ITC at Pampore.
“We have submitted a DPR after which a Feasibility Study has been sought. We have tendered the Feasibility Study. Hopefully things will move quicker now,” Kumar said.