SICOP, JK Minerals, JK Industries closed down, JK Cements to be privatised
Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir administration’s decision to shut down many decades-old government-run industrial units, which offered employment to thousands of skilled and unskilled workforce, has outraged trade bodies, industrialists, and politicians alike.
As per the order issued by Bipul Pathak, Principal Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor, SICOP, JK Minerals, and JK Industries have been closed down. JK Cements will be privatised and JK Handicraft Corporation and merged into State Handloom Development Corporation.
Former president of Federation of Chambers of Industries Kashmir, Mukhtar Yousuf, who comes from an industrialist family, told Kashmir Reader that shutting down SICOP will be a big blow to the industries sector in Kashmir. The government order, he said, will have a ripple effect as the administration has withdrawn the facility of marketing and providing raw material to Kashmir-based industries through SICOP.
“SICOP was the backbone of JK’s industries sector,” said Yousuf. “It used to provide raw material and also get orders for the industrial goods. All that is gone.”
He said that Kashmir is being turned into an open market which will put Kashmir-based industries at a disadvantage, given the hostile business conditions they operate in. Besides, he said, the region has issues of bad weather, erratic electricity, political unrest, etc.
“The government wants Kashmir to compete with the industrialists of India. If that happens, we are doomed. We can’t compete for the many reasons I told you,” he said.
In the past, when the administration has opened Kashmir to outside businessmen in the tendering process, locals have mostly been left out. For instance, outsourcing the parking facility at the Srinagar airport was given to a Kolkata-based company. Recently, most of the mining contracts were won by outsiders.
Political parties, National Conference and PDP, have also responded sharply to the order. The NC demanded in a tweet, “The order is unfair and must be rescinded.”
According to NC spokesperson Imran Nabi, “The whole plan behind disbanding these PSUs is to systematically disempower the people of JK, and make them dependent on rich cronies.”
The PDP’s youth wing tweeted, “The decision to close many PSUs by the JK administration is appalling. At a time when JK is fighting unemployment and there is a need to create more jobs, the admin’s move is plainly an attempt to add to the ring of the rising unemployment.”