Monday, January 3, 2011

My efforts in J & K to set up an industry…those utterly failed!

Here in brief I would like to share my experiences with J&K where I had decided to set up apple and apricot processing plants, those have been utterly failed because of the apathy of Dr. Abdulla.
The story began in 1997. I am old friend of Mr. Sanjay Nahar and I was one of instrumental in setting up organization named “sarhadd”. As I was prominent upcoming industrialist in Maharastra in those times, ( I had two listed companies at that time, and I was successfully running metal powder manufacturing factory at naxal Maoists affected Gadchiroli…) Mr. Nahar suggested me, why you don’t dare to set up a factory in Jammu & Kashmir? Idea appealed me. I always have loved challenges. I started studying overall scenario of J&K, visited the land several times and concluded that for lack of industrialization, and reducing number of tourists, overall economy is entirely collapsed. There no more exist chances of employment. Thus youth have no option left but to join militants. 

I also found that about 80,000 tonns of Apple gets rotten every year in an absence of adequate transportation/warehousing facilities and complete lack of processing units. Also I visited Leh same year and found that though apricot and potato produce of high hygienic quality is produced here, the same couldn’t be transported either to valley or in connecting states like Himachal Pradesh, thus causing losses to the farmers.
My interaction with Mr. Farooque Abdulla and then Chairman of Leh-Laddakh Hill Development Council Mr. Chevang Thupstan were encouraging in the beginning. I came back to Pune loaded with various kind of data that would help me to take proper decisions as to what kind of processing form we had to choose and how the end product could be marketed. 

My technocrats and food processing consultants suggested me to have a apple, apricot and potato dehydration unit…the dehydrated product could be in the form of chips or powder that could have good global as well domestic market. In the beginning of 1998 I visited several units in India and in Holland and England to understand technology and market. The results were far more encouraging. I again visited Leh and Shrinagar to understand the difficulties that we might have to confront. During this visit I visited Army Commanders to understand local need of the end product…( Leh-laddakh is almost closed for about six months and army have to depend mostly on packed food…I saw an opportunity in this…). Also I noted the condition of armed forces stationed in such remote areas where they simply were cut-off from civilized world during winter. 

At the same time an musical album was being created on my lyrics from an anthology “Monsoon Sonata”, I decided to launch the same in Leh. Senior Editor of Kashmir Times, Mr. O.N. Koul liked the idea so much so that he contacted all the army and civil authorities about the proposed launching ceremony at Leh along with musical entertainment program not only for the civil people but for armed forces as well. Thus, in the winter, when temperature was as bellow as minus 16 degree, in the month of November 1998 we, along with a band, we reached Leh. First performances were for Armed forces and I still cannot forget every moment of the enjoyment that we could give to the soldiers. On 16th November 1998 the launching ceremony took place on Polo ground in the chilling weather. Almost 80% Of Leh populace had gathered on the Polo ground. They were dancing and enjoying every moment. When I declared I am going to set up an industry, there was great applaud from the gathering. I was almost on tears…

My feeling is, if I had achieved something, I could make the soldiers and people happy with entertainment in the times none used to visit Leh-Laddakh. You will be surprised to know, the practice of shooting at Leh Laddakh began after our venture, as a team of Music India Channel had accompanied us… and they really promoted laddakh in massive way.

Anyway, later on we prepared project report, plant and machinery was finalized, then Jammu Kashmir Banks Chairman had agreed to finance the project. Mr. Abdulla seemed quite happy that someone from Maharashtra is trying to set up first unit here that would process about 18000 tons of agriculture produce every year. 

Then where project did stuck?

You the friends are aware of a great leader (?) from Maharashtra who is close friend of Mr. Abdullah. Secretary of Mr. Abdullah told me later that because I had not contacted this Powerful leader, he has questioned “fundamentals” of the project and now you need to meet “Him” personally to convince about your project.

I am not used to politics and why I needed to convince him? 

If my project fails for any reason me and my directors are responsible and have to pay as long as the loan is not repaid, being guarantor. I was not seeking any special grant from the J& K government. As I left ministry office I darted at the Jammu-kashmir Times’ office and in feat of anger criticized Mr. Abdullah so much so that it became front page story of the newspaper, next day. 

I was summoned specially by Mr. Abdullah, he was obviously upset with me. He said, “Young man, what’s the harm with you meeting personally Mr. Pawar?”

I bluntly told him, “Sir, I am setting up unit in Kashmir, not in Maharashtra. My concerns are National…not just selfish…if I start unit here, others too will follow the suite…creating employment in Kashmir which is need of the time and future.”

He gave a pleasant smile, shook hands with me and said, “come next time, we may have fruitful discussion…”

Meeting ended. I embarked evening plane…completely disappointed and returned to Pune via Delhi.
The project that already had cost me for over 22 lakh Rs. had to be abandoned. I never wanted to appease any so-called local leader. This is not in my blood. 

I am telling this episode for only reason that whether politicians want to resolve the problem of people? Of unemployment in the regions those are almost has become pro-terrorism. 

And my question is why they should not?

Unless and until we can provide the bordering States secured atmosphere, employment and futuristic vision, and national brotherhood...shown by us by at least making visits to their regions, how we can subjugate terrorism? Sitting in the cozy chairs it is easy to blame the people of any creed or race or religion tose promote terrorisim, but the people who claim to be democratic representatives of such people have no more right to claim to be humanistic…forget nationalistic.

1 comment:

  1. संजयजी, वाचून थक्क झालो. लेहमध्ये जाऊन एक कारखाना सुरू करणे हे कल्पनेच्या बाहेरचे आहे.ते धाडस आपण केलेत. आपल्या स्वप्नाची पूर्ती झाली असती तर देशाचाच फायदा झाला असता. पण हे होणार नाही. म्हणूनच मी आपल्या "भारत-सुपरपोवर" या लेखावर तशी प्रतिक्रिया दिली आहे. मात्र निदान एक माणूस तरी नुसत्या लिहिण्या-बोलण्यापेक्षा प्रत्यक्ष तिथे जाऊन काम करतो, ही घटनाच आशादायक आहे!