Ladies and gentlemen,
Thirty three years is a very long time when Kashmir faced turmoil resulting in the exodus of almost 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits and peaceful Muslims, Sikhs and others. I have spent most of these years fighting for the survival of this community, by raising awareness, and making my voice heard even in Congress. I didn’t expect this day to come so soon, when we would be talking about development instead of terrorism and mayhem. As I have always said in these past decades, there is a strong need for promoting Pluralism in the State so that all communities can live together as they did before. I always focused on Intra-Kashmiri dialogue, as well as exchange programs for students, writers, and artists to use their talents to reconnect the hearts and minds of the people. Another recommendation I’ve made is for the inclusion of teachings by Lal Ded, Sheikh Noor-ud-in Noorani and other Sufi scholars as well as key Vedic and Buddhist texts. Additionally, I’ve supported the promotion of art and music and encouraged modernizing libraries to provide internet and computer access so the future generation of kids will be greater assets to their community. ,
I am delighted that steps have been taken for implementation of more progressive local laws which shall empower women and provide a platform for their crucial voices.
The G20 summit will convene in Jammu and Kashmir UT on May 22-24. The three-day summit will gather leaders representing 60% of the world’s population, marking the first major international event in a region that has long been plagued by terrorism and violence. The UT administration is expecting to host over 100 non-ministerial members representing G20 nations. This tourism stakeholder’s meeting will be focusing on giving a boost to J&K’s tourism prospects.
Under the theme of India’s G20 Presidency, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” the summit will underscore the value of all life, including humans, animals, plants, and microorganisms, and their interconnectedness on the planet.
Green Development, Climate Finance, Accelerated, Inclusive & Resilient Growth, Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure, and Women-led Development are among the top priorities of the present G20.
I stand before you today to discuss the remarkable progress and promising future of industrial development in the beautiful region of Jammu and Kashmir. This land of immense potential has overcome numerous challenges, thanks to the concerted efforts of the State Government and the Government of India. Today, I will share with you the key developments and opportunities that lie ahead for this region.
Tonight, we have convened with a shared purpose of exploring potential business opportunities and attracting significant investment to maximize the region’s resources.
Jammu and Kashmir presents numerous investment opportunities in sectors such as tourism, agriculture, horticulture, handicrafts, healthcare, and education. Foreign direct investment (FDI) worth Rs 500 crore has already happened with prominent companies like the UAE-based Emaar Group making significant investments. Moreover, the government has received over 5,300 applications and investment proposals, indicative of the growing interest in the region’s potential.
To make Jammu and Kashmir an appealing investment destination, the government has introduced attractive incentives. Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) can now buy and own property in the region, creating new avenues for investment. Furthermore, the government offers tax benefits, subsidies, and exemptions, fostering an environment conducive to investment. The streamlined land acquisition process, with land shares being received within three days, sets a remarkable precedent, unmatched in other regions of India. As a result, investments worth Rs 75,000 crore are anticipated in the near future.
The region has witnessed a surge in tourism, with a record-breaking 1.88 crore tourists visiting in 2022. Jammu and Kashmir has emerged as a preferred shooting destination for the film industry, with permission granted for over 150 films and web series. This upward trend signifies the positive impact of recent policy changes and highlights the region’s fastest-growing economy.
To support economic development, the government has placed significant emphasis on infrastructure development. Jammu and Kashmir offer a plethora of incentives, including land availability, skilled labor, technical support, market connectivity, air cargo facilities, and affordable power. The government has made substantial investments in highways, tunnels, and enhanced flight operations, fortifying the region’s infrastructure and bolstering the investment climate.
The latest Industrial Policy of 2021 aims to foster investment in secondary and tertiary sectors, utilizing the region’s skilled human capital. Additionally, special emphasis has been placed on uplifting traditional industries like handicrafts and handlooms, providing economic empowerment to our talented artisans, weavers, and traders.
Recognizing the vast potential of Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of India, through the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), has launched the New Central Sector Scheme for Industrial Development. With a financial outlay of Rs 28,400 crore until 2037, this scheme aims to position Jammu and Kashmir as an attractive investment destination. Its focus lies in fostering sustainable, balanced, progressive, and competitive industrial growth.
Jammu and Kashmir boast a skilled workforce in sectors such as tourism, handicrafts, agriculture, and horticulture. Recognizing the importance of education and skill development, the government has actively invested in these areas. The support provided to women-owned enterprises through credit guarantee schemes has already assisted 18,000 enterprises, amounting to over Rs 500 crore in the previous financial year.
Our region is blessed with abundant resources that further underscore its potential. In the agricultural sector, the saffron harvest is projected to yield 16-17 tons, generating a revenue of around 250-300 Crores per year. Additionally, the region produces 2.2 million apples annually, contributing Rs 8,000 crore to the economy and providing livelihoods to 33 lakh people.
Jammu and Kashmir also possess abundant mineral resources. We have 5000 tons of limestones, 86,263 tons of walnuts, 50 million tons of gypsum, and are renowned for the highest quality sapphire stones. The region is rich in minerals like Sulphur, ochre, dolomite, quartzite, slate, graphite, lignite, marble, zinc, iron ore, copper, peat, and fuller. These resources present immense opportunities for mining and contribute to the region’s economic growth.
Apart from agriculture and minerals, Jammu and Kashmir possess other valuable resources. For instance, the highly sought-after Kashmir wild mushroom, known as “Guchi,” can cost between $500 to nearly $1500 per kilogram. The region is home to more than 120 species of birds, making it a paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts. Furthermore, 61% of Kashmir’s land is covered by forests, providing abundant timber and contributing to the region’s biodiversity. The literacy rate of over 65% showcases the potential of our skilled human capital.
Education is the cornerstone of any prosperous society. I am pleased to share that 50 new degree colleges have been established, offering a total of 25,000 seats. This expansion in educational institutions will equip our youth with the necessary knowledge and skills to contribute meaningfully to the region’s development. Furthermore, the establishment of seven new medical colleges, with an additional 1,400 medical and paramedical seats, will enhance healthcare services and create opportunities for aspiring healthcare professionals.
Recognizing the importance of skills training and employment, the administration has implemented programs to provide training to school and college dropouts based on their individual skills. It is inspiring to note that 70 percent of those trained have been able to secure wage employment. This initiative not only offers hope and opportunities to the youth but also contributes to reducing unemployment in the region. We are committed to supporting the growth and development of our future generations.
In our pursuit of sustainable development, we must also harness the immense potential of renewable energy. Jammu & Kashmir possesses remarkable resources for renewable energy, including a capacity to generate at least 20,000 MW of hydro power and 800,000 MW of solar power. However, it is essential to acknowledge that our current hydel power generation stands at a modest 1658 MW. By expanding our focus on renewable energy projects, we can tap into this vast potential, reducing our reliance on traditional energy sources and promoting a greener and more sustainable future.
The government of Jammu & Kashmir is committed to creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and innovation. We recognize the importance of nurturing a vibrant ecosystem that encourages the spirit of enterprise and supports the growth of startups and small businesses. Through targeted initiatives and policies, we aim to provide the necessary support, funding, and infrastructure to entrepreneurs, enabling them to flourish and contribute to the region’s economic growth.
In addition to these efforts, we are actively working towards creating an inclusive and sustainable economic model that benefits all segments of society. We are mindful of the importance of promoting social welfare and ensuring equitable development. The government is dedicated to implementing programs that uplift marginalized communities, provide equal opportunities, and address the unique challenges faced by vulnerable groups.
These statistics and resources paint a vivid picture of the diverse opportunities that Jammu and Kashmir possess. By tapping into these resources and leveraging our strategic location, skilled workforce, and investor-friendly policies, we can drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, and improve the standard of living for the people of this region.
To realize this potential, we must continue our collective efforts, we invite both domestic and international investors to explore the unique opportunities that Jammu and Kashmir offers.
However, we cannot accomplish our goals alone. We need the collective efforts and participation of all stakeholders – government agencies, private sector enterprises, civil society organizations, and the citizens of Jammu & Kashmir. Together, we can build a prosperous and resilient region that serves as a model for sustainable development.
To sum it up, achieving sustainable economic growth in Jammu & Kashmir necessitates a comprehensive strategy that addresses education, healthcare, entrepreneurship, renewable energy, and inclusive development. Through collaborative efforts, we can unleash the vast potential of this region, creating ample business opportunities not only for its residents but also for US citizens, NRI’s, and OCI card holders. Together, let us pave the way for a prosperous future that benefits all. Thank you.