The steel plant project promised by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah during his tenure is yet to be fulfilled. A team of Steel Authority of India (SAIL) visited Jammu and Kashmir in August 2013 and held detailed discussion with officials of state government to start the project. The state government was asked to prepare revised proposal for sending it to SAIL
Years have passed but work on the steel plant is yet to begin, a project which would give more than 10,000 jobs to skilled and unskilled workers in the state. Even the central government has said that they have not received any steel plant project from Jammu and Kashmir state, thus raising question mark on credibility of state government.
Generally, the political leaders make tall promises to the public to woo votes particularly during election campaign but later on several of these promises are put in dustbin, thereby deceiving the innocent public. But when it comes to fulfilling those promises, we hardly see politicians doing that. They promise and then forget the same. This is what has happened with steel plant for Jammu and Kashmir. It was pledged and later, forgotten completely.
None needs to presume the cause for the Union Ministry of Steel not to honour the announcement of its Minister and abandon the much talked about steel plant for Jammu and Kashmir. One is unable to understand why the state government did not expeditiously pursue the matter but chose to sleep over it for a long time till the Chief Minister tumbled on the issue and took it up with New Delhi.
Nobody is prepared to explain the causes of abandoning the plant and the public would very much like to know whether it is the physical and climatic conditions or the attitude of the state government or mere callousness of bureaucrats that led to the denial of steel plant for the State. The state government is reported to have even expressed its willingness to accept the proposal of joint venture once put forward by the steel giant and had even named SICOP as its representative.
The steel major of India is silent about its commitment to the State which is more hurting. Why should Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti run for every major or minor project for sanction and funding and expert advice to the union government when things should get resolved in normal course? Putting entire burden on the shoulders of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti creates unhealthy precedence which nobody will like. We find no reason why SAIL should be apathetic towards our State.
Production of a lakh ton of steel per year and opening of employment avenues for our youth remain denied to us for reasons not known to us. If the logistics of establishing steel mill in the state are not up to the mark or if there are physical limitations, this should have been communicated to the state government in proper time. SAIL has disappointed us.
Now that the state government has revived the case after it remained in cold store for five long years, we shall appreciate that the SAIL closes down the past chapter and addresses the issue afresh but with a positive and constructive philosophy of helping our State strengthen its economy and helping our youth in finding employment. State government is more than willing to cooperate in the establishment of the proposed steel mill in the valley.
Policy planners in the State and in New Delhi are laying stress on the need of industrializing of J&K State if unemployment among educated youth is to be eradicated. The NITI Ayog has recently announced incentives for expansion of industrial units in all three regions of state. That is an encouraging step.