Every state in the present day is making efforts to attract investment from outside entities, including those from foreign countries. Uttarakhand too desires to be an investment destination and efforts have been made in that direction. This is certainly laudable but there seems to be a lack of consistency and the homework seems to be inadequate. The objective is not to be pursued in fits and bounds, it should be a year-long effort, with shortcomings examined and rectified with due application of mind. Local industry needs to be involved and included in the effort.
The state has many advantages such as cheap and dependable power supply, skilled human resources, a reasonably good law and order situation (though questionable of late), better quality of life for those who will come here to invest or work, air connectivity, proximity to the NRC, etc. However, many of these are under challenge and require extra effort to bring them back on track.
There are also constraints around which industrial development has to be planned. There is shortage of land, strict environmental restrictions, under-developed entrepreneurial spirit and too much politicking. Also, there have to be policies separate for the hills and the plains, as also the kinds of industries. Priority has to be given to start-ups that require Uttarakhand’s unique qualities such as the natural beauty and variety of topography, rather than those attracted here because of government giveaways. The subsidies and concessions utilised during the ‘first wave’ of industrialisation, post state formation, should not be the norm.
Leisure Tourism, wellness associated with Yoga and Ayurveda, film-making, adventure activities (as separate from pilgrimage) need to be expanded not just logistically but also innovatively. These have to be calibrated carefully so that they are not only environmentally safe but also sustainable. Past attempts in several areas have been erratic and isolated, rather than according to a plan or composite philosophy. This has meant that built up infrastructure has remained unutilised – not just grand concepts like the international ice-skating rink in Doon, but also the basics such as roadside amenities and rest houses created by the GMVN and KMVN over many decades. The maintenance and service culture is lacking, because of which good ideas fail at the point of delivery. As much as possible, international standards have to be met.
The industrialists, too, have a responsibility to not just engage for the sake of it, but walk the talk. They must come up with good ideas, as also the investment. If they cannot, they should explain why, so that remedial measures may be taken. Associations should ensure that genuine investors get opportunities rather than fly-by-night operators hoping to make a quick buck.