Recession shatters hopes of batala industrialists

  • Vishal Sally, Hindustan Times, BATALA
  • Updated: Jul 26, 2014 23:52 IST

The Batala small scale industry which was famous in the country for its machinery was already passing through a deep crisis owing to the policies of the centre and state government, but now country wide recession played the role of last nail in the coffin of Batala industry.

It is to be noted that the small scale industry of Batala is primarily an agriculture based industry and due to drought like situation in the entire country, agriculture sector is going to be in deep crises which has deeply affecting the Batala industry.

The machinery and goods produced by the foundry industry of Batala as of such a quality that the buyers from all over the world have to wait for months to get their deliveries, as there was big demand for the goods. But the once flourishing foundry industry of Batala was passing through a critical time and heading towards collapse due to the wrong policies of the state government and steep hike in the prices of the pig iron, the main raw material for the industry.

The foundries, which always produced the hustle-bustle of the machinery and nuisance voice of cutters, are now converted into marriage palaces or dhabas. And some industries who are called brilliant in manufacturing Atta Chakis them self have adopted the same profession. While the condition of some of the industrialists is such pathetic that they were forced to open tea-stalls infront of those foundries, once they owned.

Not a very big time back, it was impossible to pass through the crowded roads of Batala, which was situated on the Amritsar-Gurdaspur highway, due to the an occasional traffic jams or work force hauling and pulling heavy machinery or pony-drawn rehras and trucks chocking the bustling road with an assortment of goods stacked on the berms. It is all gone.

The ears, which have become habitual to listen the unpleasant voices of working of machinery, have become deaf, like that of machinery, which has stop too.
Now one misses the clatter and clutter of machines and hustle-bustle of the town.

One can imagine the slump in the business from the fact that against 1000 foundries and more than 6000 small units which operate with full capacities till 1980's, today there are hardly 100-odd foundries and not more than 250 small units which too are not working with their full capacities.

Talking to HT, Chairman, Batala Chamber of Industry, Hari Kishan Trehan told that for the development of border belt, first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru had implemented fright equalization policy under which the cost of pig iron is same in the entire country but in 1992, the center government cancelled the policy, which seriously affected the Batala industry.

Blaming the Punjab government for completely neglecting the state industry, President Industry State Association, Satish Sareen told that even the machinery, which was required at newly set-up Government Industrial Training Institutes in Punjab, the government was purchasing at machinery from other states.

Leading industrialist, Jawahar Sally said "we are close to the Pakistan border. What damage the two wars with Pakistan could not do to industry and business was done by the policies of the government in respect of coal, steel, and pig iron- primary raw material used in the foundries. Besides, SAIL( Steel Authority of India Limited), a government agency, stopped the production of pig iron and passed it on the to private sector. And now this nation wide slum in the industry shatters the hopes of some of the industrialists who were hoping for a new beginning".

The closure unit has hit many residents of 150-add villages around the town. Employment opportunities are limited. There is a gnawing apprehension that unless attractive, alternative, sustainable jobs are created or technical training skills imparted, youth could fall prey to drugs or crime. Thus the revival of industry economy becomes imperative for social amity.

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