Troop cut has improved Indo-Pak ties: Mufti
19 December 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed today said India’s relations with Pakistan had improved considerably after the start of troop withdrawal from his State. Talking to mediapersons after an alumni meeting of the Aligarh Muslim University, he said the Centre had been wise in deciding to reduce the number of troops in Jammu and Kashmir and if Pakistan reciprocated with more sincerity, it would be a milestone in improving Indo-Pak relations. He said the move was not a publicity stunt, but a decision taken after considering various aspects of national security. Mr Sayeed claimed the 'healing touch' policy of his Government had increased people’s faith in a democratic set-up. The Hurriyat and the representatives from Pakistan occupied Kashmir had also realised that violence is not a solution to the problems of people in the Valley, he said. Earlier, seeking the help of country's corporate sector in the reconstruction of Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said that investment in the State is essential for return of lasting peace and development. He said the countrymen should rise to the occasion and supplement the efforts of the coalition Government in the State in ensuring a peaceful, developed and rejuvenated Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Sayeed was interacting with the leather industrialists of Kanpur city known as the Manchester of India, here this afternoon. Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma accompanied him. Union Minister of State for Home, Sriprakash Jaiswal and prominent citizens of the city received the Chief Minister at the Chekri Airport here when he arrived here on a day's visit. Kanpur is the second biggest center of leather industry in the country and the State Government is persuading industrialists to set up tanneries there. The visit of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister is of great significance in this direction. The visit was preceded by the arrival of a State Government team headed by the Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, A. Sasaranaman, that had a detailed discussion with the leather industrialists here and briefed them about the incentives available under the new industrial policy of Jammu and Kashmir. The Mufti said he is looking forward to the support and assistance of the people of the country especially the corporate sector in the task of rebuilding the State. He said the enormous task could not be achieved by him single handed and asked for the wholehearted support of the countrymen. He said he has come to Kanpur with the purpose of inviting industrialists to set up their manufacturing units there adding that the investment in Jammu and Kashmir is in fact investment in peace. He said the State is on the threshold of a new phase that promises peace and development. The efforts of the coalition Ggovernment for the last two years, he said, have brought about positive change and the Government's thrust is on promoting industrial sector. He said he has visited several places of the country including Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkatta in his effort to persuade industrialists come to Jammu and Kashmir. He said these efforts have started bearing fruit and the State has received investment of Rs. 100 crore so far. Dispelling security concerns of the prospective investors, the Chief Minister said that situation in the State has improved a lot and there is no room for apprehensions on this account. He suggested them to visit the State and see for themselves the changed atmosphere adding that the arrival of about 7 lakh tourists and pilgrims in Kashmir this year is the best indicator of improvement in the situation. He said five million pilgrims visited Vaishnodevi shrine while Amarnath shrine received the highest ever number of pilgrims last summer. These people had come from all over the country and returned with positive feelings and pledges of visiting again. Mr Sayeed said that Jammu and Kashmir offers the maximum incentives to industry. He said apart from the North East type packages available under the central policy a host of incentives including income tax holiday for one year and sales tax and excise holiday up to 2012 could be availed of. He said for leather industry in particular the State offers congenial atmosphere. He said 40 lakh sheep and goatskins are available in the State as raw material annually. These skins are presently exported to other places in the country and could be utilized locally if the tanneries are set up there. He said following his meeting with leather industry of Tamil Nadu the leading leather industrialist of the country and the maker of the famous brand Florshiem shoes has started a factory in Jammu while discussion with some others is also going on. After today's interaction with the leather industry here, several leather industrialists have shown interest in setting up their units in Jammu and Kashmir. They have praised the state's industrial policy saying that the incentives provided by the Government are very attractive and they would like to take benefit. A group of local industrialists is visiting Kashmir in January next on an exploratory visit. Meanwhile, the State Government is setting up a common effluent treatment plant at Lassipora industrial estate in the Valley incurring an expenditure of Rs. 1.5 crore. The State Government has succeeded in assuring the industrialists of assured power supply of 16 hours daily with a 10 MW power generation plant at Lassipora. The Samba industrial estate in Jammu has already a 20 MW facility. The Government also provides 100 per cent incentive on diesel generating sets. Six tanneries are being set up at Lassipora of which two are already functional. The Chief Minister also addressed the meeting of Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association and Sir Syed Memorial Educational Society here. He announced a grant of Rs. 5 lakhs for the school run by the Society and invited hundred students to visit Kashmir in next summer. Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Chief Minister, Mangat Ram Sharma said that the industrialists of the country should come forward and invest in Jammu and Kashmir. He said they should consider investing in the State as a national duty and help Jammu and Kashmir prosper. He said the people of the State has undergone tremendous difficulties during the past 15 years and they want to come out of the turmoil. He said the countrymen should extend their helping hand. Mr. Sharma said that the industrial policy of the State Government is an attractive package and he is hopeful that the corporate sector would take its advantage. He said the raw material available in the leather sector is of huge quantity and the market for the leather goods is available within the State in the shape of lakhs of tourists and pilgrims visiting the State every year. Earlier, Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal lauded the 'healing touch' and assured Mr Sayeed of Central assistance in funding development schemes in the State.