Dhumal hard sells agriculture to contain joblessness

dhumalShimla: Industrialisation having failed to turn a panacea for containing joblessness, the government is back focusing on the primary sector, hard selling agriculture and horticulture as an economically sustainable venture to contain unemployment.

Speaking at a Kisan Mela at Solan, recently, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said, “Agriculture has potential to generate vast employment and self-employment avenues for educated unemployed youth at their doorsteps.”

“To revolutionize the farm sector,” he said, “and introduce innovative technology the government has launched an ambitious Rs 353 crore Pandit Deen Dayal Kisan Baagwan Samridhi Yojna for enhancing agriculture productivity.”

“The government would subsidize upto 80 percent of investments made in setting up poly houses, installing drip or sprinkler irrigation systems,” he said keeping in mind that 70 percent of the state population still depends upon agriculture for a livelihood.

Industry department officials reveal that since 2003 when the industrial package was announced clearance has been accorded to 10,530 small scale and 967 medium and large scale industrial proposals.

“Of them only 4325 small industrial and 199 medium and large industrial units had commissioned production by end of 2008,” said DD Sharma, a statistician with the industry department.

“For the 11,497 project proposals approved since 2003, a potential of 4 lakh job avenues have been created under the industrial package,” he said.

Live register with the unemployment exchanges in November, 2008 stood at 822,452 people queued up for employment assistance.

“Terming all of them as unemployed is a misnomer,” says Manoj Tomar, a labour bureau official. “A sample survey conducted showed that actually 45.73 percent of the live register were truly unemployed,” he said.

What has come as a rude shock to state planners and administrators is that the industrial package secured by the hill state after much lobbying to create jobs, had failed in its primary objective.

“The jobs promised by easing land laws and creating tax havens for industry simply are not there,” says an official of economics and statistics department, on conditions of anonymity.

Between 2003-08, industrial investments worth about Rs 4,000 crore has been made in Himachal, and jobs created according to data with the department stands at 50,621 only.

A mandatory 70 percent reservation in jobs passes on about 35,000 jobs to state residents. Realising the gap to be met, the government has started focusing on the primary sector again to contain unemployment, he added.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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