More than two months after Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal `Nishank’ with his 11-member cabinet air-dashed to Delhi to pressure Prime Minister Manmohan Singh into providing extension to the concessional Industrial Package for Uttarakhand, the issue has not stopped generating controversies.
What has fuelled a fresh controversy on the issue is a statement by Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma.
He is reported to have told media persons at Shimla on Saturday that the Centre had never cancelled the industrial package granted to Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in 2003 and that the State governments was deliberately creating confusion on the issue.
Sharma’s statement has now led to a fresh round of spat between the opposition Congress and state BJP government in Uttarakhand on the issue of the concessional industrial package.
Sharma said that except excise duty, which the Centre had withdrawn, entrepreneurs setting up industries in Uttarakhand and Himachal Preadesh would continue to avail themselves of all other facilities mentioned in the industrial package like capital investment, transportation and income tax, etc, until the year 2013.
“The state governments concerned should therefore demand for continuation of excise duty exemption instead of asking for providing extension to the Industrial package,” Sharma said. Strongly reacting to his (Sharma’s) statement, State Parliamentary Minister Prakash Pant suggested that Sharma’s claim that the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had not cancelled the Industrial Package was unfounded.
Claiming that the industrial package granted to Uttarakhand by the erstwhile Vajpayee government up to 2020 had been discontinued from March 31, 2010 he said that “that means entrepreneurs who will be setting up industries in Uttarakhand beyond that date (March 31) would not be entitled to any of the facilities under the industrial package.”
Pant clarified that only those entrepreneurs would be able to avail themselves of the facilities under the industrial package up to 2013 who had set up their industrial units in this State before March 31, 2010. Describing the industrial package as a must for a resource-starved and new state like Uttarakhand, he said whatever distinctive growth the State registered in terms of the per capita income and gross domestic product in the past seven years could be possible due to industrial progress in the region, thanks to the industrial package.
Pant said that an incentive like industrial package could generate industrial growth only in three plain districts in the state.
He added now that the Centre had discontinued it (industrial package) the state government would not be able to realise its plan of setting up industries in rest of the 10 economically backward hill districts. Congress Legislature Party Leader Dr Harak Singh Rawat when contacted by Hindustan Times put the blame at the door of the Nishank government. “Had Nishank quietly put in his request to the Prime Minster for providing extension to the Industrial Package that would have been granted by now,” he said.
“What spoiled the game for the Nishank government and the state at large was the drama the Chief Minister created by flying to Delhi with his cabinet colleagues to pressure the Prime Minister into providing extension to the concessional Industrial Package.”
“This kind of political drama that was greatly hyped up by the media alerted the States that were paying the cost of the concessional Industrial Package having been granted to Uttarakhand,” Rawat said. Naming these (states) as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu he said the majority of the entrepreneurs who had set up their industrial units there (states) shifted them to Uttarakhand to avail themselves of the facilities granted under the concessional Industrial Package.
“Seeing these entrepreneurs shifting their industries the governments of those states started mounting pressure on the Centre against providing extension to the industrial package for Uttarakhand,” Rawat said.
“As a result, the Finance Ministry turned down Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s proposal recommending that extension be provided to the industrial package for Uttarakhand,” he told Hindustan Times.