Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma today announced that the extension of capital investment subsidy on plant and machinery for Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand would be extended for four years to accelerate the industrial growth.
“The capital investment subsidy has been extended till March 31, 2017 in Himachal and Uttarakhand”, Mr. Sharma told the reporters.
The capital investment subsidy was one major component of a special industrial package offered to the states by the union government. While the package itself was withdrawn by the central government in March 2010 in both the states, this component remained in force after that, but expired on Jan 7 this year, official sources explained.
Likewise, Mr. Sharma announced a freight subsidy incentive for industry in both the hills states on the pattern of north-eastern states. The same subsidy was earlier known as the Central Transport Subsidy Scheme.
Certain rules of the freight subsidy incentive have been relaxed to make it more liberal and it would be applicable till 2017, he said.
Mr. Sharma was in the state capital on Sunday to hold consultations with state government functionaries on industrial development projects, especially those related to the ministries of commerce and industries.
He said principal approval for six industrial infrastructural projects worth Rs.94 crores, including a warehouse project, a pharmaceutical testing lab and container parking facility, all in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial belt, has been granted.
He said the central government has also approved an apple juice extraction unit in Shimla district and modernization of state-run Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC) juice extraction plant in Parwanoo district Solan.
Mr. Sharma also assured financial support for setting up three integrated industrial township at Pandoga in Una, Kandrouri in Kangra and Dhabota in Solan districts.
For promoting tea produced in the Kangra valley that is known for its flavor and quality, he said Rs.48 lakhs would be spent on a project for revival of tea.
He said a spice park would be set up at Nadaun in Hamirpur district on which Rs.17 crores would be spent. He also announced an extension centre of ginger-growing Sirmaur district.
On demand of Himachal to extend the Industrial Promotion Package, which provided excise and other duty concessions for new projects, Mr. Sharma said: “My ministry has already recommended its extension to the finance ministry. I have also taken up matter with the Prime Minister.”
A special package for industrial development in Himachal and Uttrakhand was extended by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 2003. But the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government curtailed it in 2007, before restoring it till 2010.
Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi in February this year and sought resumption of the special industrial package to boost industrial growth.
Officials of the industries department said that the state had approved industrial proposals worth Rs. 48,000 crores in the past 10 years, but got investments worth only Rs. 13,000 crores.
Himachal Pradesh got maximum investment from 2003 to 2010, when there was a special industrial package from the central government in force.
Most investments were in pharmaceutical, food processing, textile, packaging and light engineering sectors.