Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Sunday rejected the commonly held view that the industrial progress in Punjab began to show a downward trend due to the special industrial package extended to his state along with Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir during the NDA rule.
"Neither any industry from Punjab shifted to HP nor did any industrialist migrate to HP after shutting down his unit here," Dhumal said while addressing a national seminar on small-scale industry organised by Laghu Udyog Bharati.
On the contrary, the Himachal chief minister advocated that a similar package should be extended to Punjab, which had suffered due to two wars with Pakistan and during the period of terrorism. He said such a package could be made area specific and be given to the Dhar block of Pathankot district, the 'kandi' areas adjoining HP or even to areas bordering Pakistan.
Dhumal said the UPA was only concerned to extending assistance to the big industrial houses and had ignored the small-scale sector, which provides bulk of employment. Crores of rupees being spent in large-scale industrial sector could also be spent on uplifting small-scale units, Dhumal said, while advocating a special central package for the small-scale units.
The Himachal chief minister took the opportunity to point out that his state was a good neighbour and that was why during the peak summer season the state gives 300-MW free power to Punjab, which is returned in winters.
Dhumal also emphasised that while giving clearance to various projects, his government had always kept the environmental aspect in mind. "No project is cleared if it is perceived as a threat to environment of the state." Addressing the seminar, Punjab industry minister Anil Joshi said in the new industrial policy, the state government will be laying special emphasis on the small-scale sector. While the government is inviting major industrial houses to invest in Punjab, it is also concentrating on uplifting the small-scale sector, which is a major employment provider, he added.
He said as part of its policy to provide a proper environment for investment, the government was in the process of creating a land pool in the 'kandi' belt and in areas where land is not productive.
On the single-window system, Joshi maintained that it will be launched in the coming two weeks. Projects involving an investment up to Rs 5 crore will be cleared at the district level while those entailing investment above that will get a smooth clearance at Chandigarh, he added.
Stating that Punjab was a border state, Joshi also demanded a special industrial package from the central government for the state on lines of HP. He appealed to the industrialists present on the occasion to invest in Punjab.