NEW DELHI: The government believes that the change in Jammu & Kashmir’s status will encourage private sector investment in the new Union Territory. Till now, officials say, provisions of Articles 370 and 35A have prevented business houses from purchasing land and hiring skilled manpower.
According to official statistics, 10% of all central funds have gone to the state between 2000 and 2016 but private investment had been below par due to the special provisions. The change in administrative status, the government believes, will have a positive impact on the ease of doing business as it would give industry ownership of establishments and will encourage hiring. “These decisions will allow any individual or business that operates as per the laws of Union of India, to freely operate, under the same rules of business, in the union territories of J&K and Ladakh,” government officials said.
State Govt Jobs
These restrictions also prevented professionals and experts from outside the state from taking up state government jobs, leading to a shortage of qualified staff for educational institutions as well, the government feels.
In his speech in Parliament, union home minister Amit Shah referred to these apparent constraints, saying that “no industry can be set up because of Article 370, 35A... tourism did not develop because of restrictions on land purchase and land price in the state did not rise”.
An investor’s summit has been planned in J&K in October in which major industrial groups are expected to participate and unveil concrete ideas for investment in sectors including hospitality, pharmaceuticals, agro processing and healthcare. The plan is to have Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurate the showcase summit.
Industry stalwarts say the changes in administrative structure has the potential to bring in substantial investments.
“We are pretty convinced that this will help us get a lot more investment due to the fundamental change when it comes to ownership of property. The areas of tourism and agro processing will get a boost,” said Sameer Gupta, president, CII northern region, who participated in pre-summit meetings with the J&K government.
Industry officials say sectors like pharmaceuticals, agro processing, tourism, education and healthcare will receive a boost due to inherent demand. “It would open up the flow of investment into the state in sectors like tourism, real estate, handicrafts, horticulture and food processing. The multiplier impact would increase employment opportunities and contribute to India’s all-round prosperity,” Assocham president BK Goenka said.
In particular, Shah’s speech in Parliament asserted that among the hurdles created by Article 370 was the setting up of private hospitals. “Healthcare is crippling in Jammu and Kashmir as no private hospital could be set up due to Articles 370, 35A,” the minister said.