Once known as a hub for small-scale industry, the town is now at the verge of losing this tag as several industrial units are either closing their shutters or shifting out to Himachal Pradesh or Haryana, notwithstanding the claims of the state government to strengthen the industrial sector in the region.
The town, located along the all-important GT Road (national highway-1), was a major centre of the units making ball bearings, machine tools, toka (fodder cutting machine), etc and the town was famous across the country because of this industry only. The industry, which took roots here in 1957, reached its peak during the ’90s. But now, sadly, it is at the verge of depletion.
A sharp decrease in the number of industrial units has been witnessed in the town with only 50 units running at present, whereas this number over 250 in 1998 as per the data procured from the Small Scale Ball Bearing Manufacture Association. Most of the units have stopped operations due to the increasing intrusion of manufactures from China as they are providing the same products made here at approximately 25% less price.
Besides, heavy taxes and excise duties on the products are also hampering the growth of the industry in the town, allege a few industrialists.
“Earlier, till 2000, we used to export our products to Sri Lanka and South African countries but now no one wants to buy our products due to high prices. Once, we used to meet nearly 60% of the requirement of toka and ball bearings of our country,” said president of the association SK Bhatia.
At a time when the demand of products manufactured in the town has decreased, a substantial increase in the cost of inputs such as electricity, labour, salaries and taxes has also compelled the units to shut their operations.
Bhatia claimed that many units have also shifted to neighbouring Himachal and Haryana and even Gujarat while many big players including famous Aasman Toka and Badal Toka have sold out their trademarks.
Kashmir Singh, a manufacturer of bearings remembers the time when the town was referred as an industrial hub in history books of the Punjab Education Board for 10th class in 1985. In 1965, to boost the industry here, the state government provided more than three acres of land at nearby village Rurka Kalan with constructed sheds to bring all industrial units under one roof to increase productivity.
General manager, district industries centre, Jalandhar, Bhinder Singh, said that plots have been allotted to industrialists but only 10 shelters have been developed till now. “As soon as we get funds, we would try to develop the industry,” he said.