Investments fall, unemployment rises in Himachal

Shimla: Pulling out the excise holiday incentives for Himachal and Uttrakhand has brought about industrial blues here for investments have trickled down and unemployment is again on the rise.

Sources privy to the matter disclosed that the situation is so bad that for the past three months no medium level industrial investment proposal has been approved by the government.

“The high powered single window clearance authority which is chaired by the chief minister has not met and cleared any project in the last three months,” said a government official. “Earlier it used to be a monthly meeting if not twice a month, he added.

However, JS Rana, director industries maintains that there was no slowdown. “We have 29 industrial proposals, expansion and new industry ones that will be taken up for approval at the next meeting scheduled for 9th September,” he said. The investment involved in these projects is to the tune of Rs 700 crore, he added.

Notwithstanding the project proposals awaiting the government nod, the number of unemployed people registered with the exchanges has risen from 7.71 lakhs in December 2007 to 8.48 lakhs in July 2011.

Government papers showed that for not having set up industrial units within the stipulated industrial package time that lasted from April, 2003 to March, 2010, the industry department had cancelled 105 plots that were allotted to entrepreneurs.

Highest number of industrial plots cancelled was 29 in Kangra district, followed by 25 in Solan, 19 in Una, 14 in Mandi, 12 in Shimla and 5 in Sirmaur district. Money deposited by the industrialists for these plots stands forfeited, said a spokesman of the industry department.

Succumbing to pressure from neighbouring states, the central government had unilaterally terminated excise incentives to the two hill states in March, 2010 while continuing it for Jammu & Kashmir and the north-eastern states.

For reducing unemployment, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government had granted a 10 year tax holiday in 2003 that was prematurely terminated.

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