Make in Himachal? No Thanks!

The ‘Make In India’ lion, did get the people visiting the world’s largest Industrial fair at Hannover Messe talking but the roar didn’t last for long. The fair was attended by senior business leaders, technology heads, industrial scientists and top policy makers across the world. As this years partner country, India left no stone unturned to showcase its engineering prowess and that there has been no better time to invest in ‘Changed India’.

Nevertheless, one may find numerous splashes of images and videos of the happenings at Hannovar Messe all across the web but barely any official figures or information of concrete business deals have come out since.

A few MoU were signed by the country’s apex engineering organization EEPC India and a few leading Indian public sector firms, including BHEL, Instrumentation Ltd and HMT with top global companies from Germany, Switzerland , Russia and Bulgaria in high-tech areas such as precision instrumentation and engineering solutions.

Hill top cement plant in Himachal Pradesh
Hill top cement plant in Himachal Pradesh

Among the 16 states that participated at the fair, Himachal Pradesh pavilion was represented by a delegation of the state government officials led by principal secretary for industries R.D. Dhiman. A delegation of 15 industrialists were also there to explore business opportunities and joint ventures.

The tiny Hill state did manage to succeed in attracting investments in power and energy sector.

CINK Hydro Energy, a Czech Republic-based company, has showed interest in investing in Himachal Pradesh hydro power plants, while Provotek of Germany has proposed to commission a wind energy manufacturing facility in the state.

At prima facie, it seems that the present-day ambitious Government is keen to take the state to new levels of economic development by earning revenue through setting up a chain of hydro projects. Since the power sector is highly capital-intensive and the government cannot generate even a fraction of investible resources needed for exploiting this potential; it apparently seems to be a supply side concern.

However, in last few years, according to various reports and studies it is found that the state has continuously failed to gain profits by selling its surplus power generated from Hydro Projects at a loss and is still keen on clearing many such projects in haste on the pretext of generating revenue for state, but at the cost of local ecology and people. Thus the concern seems to more from the demand side.

Even so, the government is aggressively pushing up clearance of run-of-the-river Hydro projects citing that they do not encounter the issues associated with large scale dammed hydro projects. To add to the plight of the locals, the government in recent past has announced that there is no requirement for a no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the  Gram Sabha, fisheries dept, IPH, PWD and the revenue dept for small projects.

The government could have instead sent delegations from departments of tourism and  agriculture  than industries which could have proven fruitful in real terms for local employment generation and ecology both. Given the current scenario of deterioration of fragile ecology, displacement of local people, destroying forests and biodiversity, drying the rivers, disrupting lives and cultures and flooding of cultivable and forest land; caused by hydro projects against benefits of worth developing sectors ie  tourism and agriculture – the recent events at Hannover Messe bring no hope rather concern for the debt-ridden state.

One wonders, need we applause such progress? Or cheer ‘Make in Himachal’? ..or rather say No Thanks!

Photo by: Manjit Singh  

Shalini Garpha, an engineer with masters in economics, is a versatile personality. Her primary interests lies in digging up lost treasures of mountains ie traditional food, stories, tales and is a staunch supporter of village economy. When not reading, writing or researching about any of above, one can find her tucked in a quite corner crooning soulful songs or reading Children's and YA books! A creative writer by choice, she hopes to some day publish a collection of short stories from the mountains.

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