Himachal tea to be revived, a spice park to come up – Anand Sharma

Shimla: Living to his word of bringing down a business delegation to Shimla committed when the union minister of industry and commerce Anand Sharma was here last, the minister on Saturday reiterated that other than sunset clause about stopping of excise exemptions, rest of the incentives under the industrial package which include capital subsidy, transport subsidy and income tax holiday would continue for its term till 2013.

Talking to media persons Sharma said that a spice park entailing an investment of Rs 27 crore would be set up in Nadaun. The park would have regional offices in Sirmaur and Shimla. The park was being set up as the state had tremendous potential for spices and they had tremendous export potential.

To revive the tea industry of Kangra, the minister said that Tea Board of India would rehabilitate 10,000 hectares of tea estates in the state for it would set up its own office in Palampur. At the same time to promote organic tea, which had a tremendous demand, 145 hectares would be specifically marked out. The tea board had already zeroed down on 40 hectares for organic tea cultivation.

The union minister also announced that Marine Products Development Authority (MPDA) would establish aqua culture centre’s where fish farms would be supported in marketing trout and other fish. The Marine Products Authority would support related infrastructure for chilled rooms, refrigerated trucks for transportation and storage facilities, he said.

The minister also laid the foundation stone of a Chamber of Indian Industries (CII) skill centre to be set up in Parwanoo. “The centre would train 16,000 youths in two years to make them highly employable,” he said.

Sharma said that the industrial package to Himachal was strongly opposed by Punjab and Gujarat but it was not justified to prematurely do away with had been permitted by the central government. Other than the excise exemptions, other components of the industrial package would continue upto 2013, he said.

He said that in 2009-10 of the total Rs 65 crore transport subsidy granted under the special category states, Rs 30 crore had been given to Himachal. And of the total Rs 300 crore transport subsidy handed out under the industrial package Rs 112 Cr had been for Himachal alone.

He said that the northern region lagged behind in industrialization and it attracted less than 1 percent of the foreign direct investment to the country.

Earlier in the day, the minister inaugurated a Rs 78 crore effluent treatment plant in Baddi that had the capacity to treat 60 million gallons of water on a daily basis. Centre has provided Rs 60 crore, which is the maximum amount permitted for such plants, he said.

He said that his ministry would continue to support industries in the state that were in harmony with environment. At the same time, he added that the central ministry would undertake a review of the industrial package so as to see what cost-benefit ratios had been achieved.

Among the industrialists who made announcements at the meet were:-

Anil Rajpoot, vice president of Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) announced that the company intended to double of its potato seed manufacturing capacity at its tissue culture centre near Baddi. ITC has a large integrated FMCG manufacturing unit that manufactures soaps, shampoos and creams in Himachal and from a captive unit sources Sunfeast biscuits, said Rajpoot. Production in these units are planned to be doubled in 2 to 3 years, he said.

Rajenderan, chairman NIIT announced plans of setting up a skill development centre in Himachal through the NIIT foundation. He also said that there were plans of setting up a distance education centre. He said that NIIT had 13 centres in the state.

Gokul Patnyak of Global AgriSystem announced setting up 3 supply chain units at Bhuntar in Kullu, Ghumarwain and Solan for supply of European and off-season vegetables.

Rakesh Mittal, of Bharti Airtel announced plans of extending research and development for improving productivity of apple orchards in Himachal Pradesh. He said that their agri company was already engaged with introducing better production techniques of apples in Kashmir and it would extend it to Himachal. He also announced setting up a skill development centre that could provide human resource for its BPO services.

Pictures by Lalit Kumar

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