The special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked with the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, 2019 and it was divided into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
“The Union Territory of J&K has also attracted a lot of interest from foreign investors and this can be pegged at about Rs 3,000 crore,” the officer told a group of visiting journalists here on Saturday.
Jammu and Kashmir is a “good package” as it offers natural advantages in terms of resources and logistics, and this cannot be matched by many other states or union territories, he said.
“It is being said that the business investment made here post-August 2019 is not visible but the fact is that getting industries operational on the ground usually takes about three years.
“We had COVID-19 for two years (2020 and 2021) and things started picking up from September last year,” he added.
The results will be visible in another year and about 500 industries will start by the next month itself, the officer asserted.
“We want to take the investments in J&K to Rs 75,000 crore and we are confident we will be able to do it in the near future,” he said.
The union territory administration has processed and allotted land to 1,600 investors. Out of these, 800 investors have deposited the requisite funds with the government and 110 have even started work, he said.
According to the officer, two main challenges faced by the current administration are “fighting the narrative war and ensuring speed of development works”.
After some recent incidents of civilian killings, it was said that Jammu and Kashmir was returning to the 1990s — when militancy was at its peak in the Valley. However, no one sees that incidents of stone pelting and civilian casualties during law and order events are “absolutely nil”, he said.
“We are determined to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from J&K… (and it) has been brought to the lowest levels,” the officer said.
Earlier (before 2019), one-third of the productive time was lost to bandhs and protest calls but that is not the case now, he said, adding that over the last two years, not a single day has been lost due to these reasons.
In fact, we have some very encouraging “low-hanging fruits” available here now like a number of power projects, roads, highway networks and railways, he said.
The people of J&K are extremely warm towards tourists and investors, he added.
Government officials said packaging, cold storage, logistics, food processing, pharmaceuticals, medical tourism and education companies are investing and showing interest in potential business opportunities in the region.
A big company known for its plush malls has shown interest besides the film industry, the officer said.
“Today, we are moving to a more and more normal situation and a predictable environment in J&K,” he said.
Not only investors, he said, but the common people here can also expect a transparent system now, a departure from the opaque processes that prevailed earlier.
The officer claimed that the J&K administration has given government jobs in the “most transparent” manner in the last two years.
Earlier, 70 per cent of these government jobs were given through the “back door” or illegally but now it is only on the basis of merit, he claimed.
The officer said while the administration has “saturated” wage-based employment, it will soon achieve the same with regard to self-employment and with industries coming to the union territory, locals will also get jobs.
“We hope that new industries coming up here will provide about 2.5 lakh jobs, while the agriculture sector, on which we are working extensively, will also generate an equal number of new jobs,” he said.
There is no denying the fact that government jobs will be “limited”, he said.
The officer refuted allegations of corruption in the Panchayati Raj system, saying since e-tendering was initiated (after August 2019) the cost of work has come down by 30-40 per cent.
“We in the administration can assure that only e-tendering will be done when it comes to granting contracts for civil and public works and the earlier system of nomination-based award of work will not be done,” he said.
“We have completed 12 per cent more work over the last two years and as compared to the earlier times,” he claimed.