45 percent smaller in size, population; neighbouring Himachal way ahead of J&K

Syed Junaid Hashmi

JAMMU, Sept 24:?Terrorism and Corruption have both pushed Jammu and Kashmir way behind even the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh whose area and population is 45 percent less than that of Jammu and Kashmir.

GSDP of Jammu and Kashmir is less than that of Himachal Pradesh by Rs 4123 crore despite of the fact that area and population of Himachal Pradesh is 45 percent less than that of Jammu and Kashmir. According to a survey report, tourist inflow to Jammu and Kashmir for year 2015 stood at 92.03 lakh tourists whereas during 2014 it stood at 95.25 lakh. The tourist inflow to Jammu region, Kashmir region and Ladakh stood at 77.77 lakh and ?78.03 lakh for Jammu, 12.81 lakh and 15.41 lakh for Kashmir and 1.46 lakh and 1.81 lakh for Ladakh respectively during the said years.

While magnitude of pilgrim tourists during 2015 and 2014 to Jammu province was 77.77 lakh and 78.03 lakh, the magnitude of pilgrim tourists to Kashmir valley was 3.53 lakh and 3.73 lakh. In view of the fact that pilgrim tourists do not add much value to the economy of the region, increase in number of pilgrim tourists to Jammu or Kashmir does not make substantial impact on economy of the region excepting that it increases some economic activities in the local vicinity.

Report says that pilgrim tourists do not undertake luxury tours and therefore, they spend very less while adding that pilgrim tours are specifically of very short duration which last for 2 to 3 days where as luxury tourists stay for more than 7 days. It is the luxury tourists which add to the economy, as luxury tourists stay in hotels enjoy eating in restaurants, use shikaras, taxies, Ponies, cable car.? Besides, luxury tourists purchase gift items for themselves and for their relatives.

Thus, the luxury tourist adds value to the economy. On the contrary, tourist inflow to the state of Himachal Pradesh for the said years i.e. 2015 and 2014 stood at 175.31 lakh and 163.14 lakh tourists respectively. Therefore, tourist inflow is less by 83.28 lakh tourists in 2015 and 67.89 lakh tourists in 2014 than the state of Himachal Pradesh despite the fact that Kashmir valley has tremendous scenic beauty/tourist spots than that of state of Himachal Pradesh.

Report affirms that tourism sector needs to be given highest attention to boost tourist inflow for economic development of the State. Hydel power potential of both J&K and Himachal Pradesh states is estimated at 20,000 MW each. Himachal Pradesh has harnessed capacity/projects to the extent of 6370 MW (32 percent of estimated potential) while J&K has exploited 3263.46 MW (16 of estimated potential) only. The power projects take years to complete and not even one has been completed within the promised time-span.

Moreover, ones completed are unable to produce the electricity as pledged in the documents. State has failed to turn hydroelectric projects into a profit making ventures. The report further says that large and medium scale industries are only 86 with employment of 19314 persons as against 503 Large and Medium Scale Industries with employment of 60908 persons in Himachal Pradesh. Net area sown of J&K is only 7 percent of total area (comparable area) while as the net area sown of Himachal Pradesh is 12 percent of it?s total cadastral surveyed area of 4543 thousand hectares.

The report has further said that industries came to halt due to turmoil. The industrial units in industrial estate Lachipora, Khonmoh, Baghi Ali Mardan khan, Rangret, Anantag , Aischan, Chittipora, Baramulla, Bijbehara, Kupwara, HMT in Kashmir valley came to halt which resulted in the idle payment of wages to skilled labour for more than 4 months and loss of production. The estimated loss suffered by Industry during hartals and curfews is of the order of Rs 13291 crore comprising of Rs 6548.00 crore of private sector and Rs 6713 crore of Govt sector.

Estimated turnover and revenue loss in Rs 13291 crore is of the order of Rs 11555 crore (Private sector=Rs 5720 crore and Govt sector=Rs 5835 crore) and Rs 1736 crore (Private sector=Rs 858 crore and Govt sector=Rs 878 crore) respectively. In addition to above, Jammu based SSI Units also suffered production losses due to turmoil as reported by Industry department. The turnover loss has been reported as Rs 1800 crore and revenue loss as Rs 275 crore.

A number of schemes are under implementation under Roads and Bridges sector across the state for achieving the desired goals. However, due to law and order problems, developmental programmes did suffer. During first two quarters of 2015-16, road length of 1685 kms were blacktopped under various programmes in the State whereas the achievement made during the current financial year for first two quarters, is 1410 kms. It is estimated that had the situation been fully favourable, the department could have undertaken many more macadamization.