Industry in Ludhiana is worried over its future following the Centre's decision to extend special incentives to the Congress-ruled Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The industrial units in Punjab that were demanding a similar package for a long time now believe that this special package would force industries in Punjab to shift to these neighboring states.
Industrial associations have also raised concern with the chief minister and stated that lack of industrial package to Punjab would have serious repercussions, including loss to business houses based in the state.
The matter took a political turn when the SAD-BJP combine lambasted the Congress-led UPA government for failing to provide industrial package to the state. Industrialists said cheap power and tax concessions in Himachal and Uttarakhand had already caused damage to the industry in Ludhiana and extension of incentives till 2017 would cause further loss.
Charanjit Singh Vishwakarma, president of United Cycle Parts Manufacturers Association (UCPMA), said many industrial units in Ludhiana were already planning to shift to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand due to better facilities being offered to industries in these states.
"The Centre has shown its discriminatory face by not extending concessions to Punjab as it is also a bordering state and has reeled under terrorism for years. Heavy tax rebates and cheap power in these states have weakened the industry of Punjab," said Vishwakarma.
On the other hand, Ashok Makkar, president of Ludhiana Dyeing Industries Association, said the industrial package would make labourers flee the industrial city of Ludhiana. There was a heavy crunch of labourers in the city and the special package would attract them to the neighbouring states, he added.
Makkar added that Ludhiana MP and union minister for information and broadcasting Manish Tewari also failed in taking up the cause of industries at the central level. "The Congress government at the Centre will face the wrath of industrialists in the Lok Sabha elections," said Makkar.
The hosiery industry that has nearly 11,000 units in Ludhiana has also condemned the Centre's move on industrial package. Vinod Thapar, chairman of Knitwear Club, said the industry was not against concessions to other states. "But similar concessions should also be given to Punjab where industry was reeling under losses. This package would further put pressure on Punjab industry in general and Ludhiana units in particular," said Thapar.
Even chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had attacked the Congress government at the Centre for not extending industrial package to the state. In an official statement, Badal recently stated that by extending the incentives to Himachal and Uttarakhand, "the Congress has backstabbed the state by keeping it out of the ambit of the package despite repeated and earnest pleas of the Punjab government".
"The decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for extending the special package to the neighbouring states from January 7, 2013, to March 31, 2017, was clearly aimed at further derailing the industrial growth of Punjab," Badal stated.
Raghunath Rana, chairman of Sports Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Jalandhar, said the Centre should provide special incentives to the sports industry as it comes under the cottage industry and cannot be shifted out of Punjab. "To encourage the sports industry, the Centre should also provide special incentives to Punjab on the lines of Uttarakhand and Himachal," said Rana.