J&K: ‘Will ensure investment is not held hostage to law & order disturbances’

J&K: ‘Will ensure investment is not held hostage to law & order disturbances’

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu with Kotak Mahindra Bank Executive Vice Chairman & MD Uday Kotak in Mumbai on Friday. Ganesh Shirsekar

Even as curbs on the use of internet prevail in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Kewal Kumar Sharma, advisor to the J&K lieutenant governor, on Friday said the administration will take steps to enable businesses that depend on the Internet to ensure that it is not held hostage to law and order disruptions. Sharma was among senior J&K bureaucrats who were in Mumbai on Friday as part of a roadshow ahead of the Jammu and Kashmir Global Investors Summit in May.

“In today’s business environment, all kinds of connectivity are needed. That will be provided. We will work out the regimes to secure that in case there are businesses that operate only on Internet... we will have arrangements, we will work on technical methodologies so that the investment that is coming to the state is not held hostage to law and order disturbances, if any, in the future,” Sharma said.

Asked if curbs on the use of the Internet are a concern among investors, Sharma said: “Internet restrictions have been eased over the last month. Every fortnight there is a review. Whatever residual restrictions are there, are being eased off. It’s only a temporary thing because the situation is becoming much better, it is more normal now.At the same time, the restrictions that remain are there so that people don’t make use of the Internet to create disorder. This matter was also raised before the SC. We are confident that in the coming months, we will be able to further minimise the restrictions.”

Aiming at securing investments worth Rs 2 lakh crore in the next 10 years, senior bureaucrats from the Union Territory on Friday invited investors from Mumbai to set up shop in J&K.

Presentations made at the roadshow, the third such after Bengaluru and Kolkata, spoke of 14 focus areas including tourism, infrastructure, real estate, food processing, horticulture, film, information technology, education and skill development, in which the administration encouraged investments. Investors were also told that with a “strong government” at the Centre and a “secure future”, J&K was now one of the safest places to do business in the nation.

From the Mumbai roadshow, held in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry, Sharma said J&K expected investment pledge of over Rs 1,000 crore. At the Bengaluru and Kolkata roadshows, the investor interest was to the tune of Rs 600 crore and Rs 2,000 crore, respectively, he added. On the sidelines of the roadshow, J&K Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu met with industry leaders, including Uday Kotak, executive vice chairman and managing director at Kotak Mahindra Bank, in Mumbai.

J&K Finance Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta said the private sector has a huge investment opportunity in J&K. He claimed that reports of J&K’s economy coming to a halt after Article 370 of the Constitution was diluted and the erstwhile state was declared a Union Territory were “totally incorrect”. “Look at the GST growth in December. We were at 40 per cent month to month, highest in the country. In February, we are likely to be around 30 per cent... If we are at 30 per cent, we will again be highest in the country. So, GST growth at the moment is roughly in the order of 12 per cent, that puts us in the best category among states and UTs. While problems have been there, the growth story is there.”

According to a preliminary economic loss assessment report released by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry in January, J&K’s economy had suffered a loss of Rs 17,878.18 crore between August 5, 2019 and December 3, 2019.