The land of five rivers which once boasted of enormous food production boosted up by the green revolution has now diverted its attention to the industrial houses as well. The state which has utilized its ground water to a dangerous level and has exploited its soil’s fertility up to the maximum due to extreme use of fertilizers is now facing a crunch of resources required for agriculture.

The once most fertile state is now attracting industrial houses to set up their infrastructure to keep the kitchen fires burning. Like Uttar Pradesh which witnessed the bloom of the green revolution and is now forced to invite IT firms and other industrial houses to provide employment to the largest populated state, Punjab is also bound to follow the same footsteps.

Many appeasement policies are being brought into practice to woo the big business units to the state. The Punjab government announced a series of concession just before Diwali to the Technology (IT) sector to attract investments. State Industries Minister Tikshan Sud confirmed setting up new IT parks at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawan Shahr) and Kapurthala after Mohali.

However, the extreme power shortage in the state has been a de-motivator for the industrial houses.

Undermining the regulations in place to check industrial pollution, Sud said, the concessions include waiver of clearance from Punjab Pollution Control Board besides Punjab Apartment and Regulation Act for units to be set up in IT parks.

With the state reeling under severe  power crunch due to  lack of hydro electric power and dwindling coal supply to thermal power plants in the state, the concession policy provides for Electricity Duty Exemption to captive power units installed by IT units and Electricity Duty exemption to IT/knowledge units for five years.

It is to be noted, the industrial units are forced to cut production for three days a week, while on the other hand, they have to deposit Rs 80,000 a month with Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL), if they want to opt for purchasing power in open access, sources said. Already, there is a 24-hour-cut once a week for general industry and a two-day cut for furnaces and rolling mills in the state.

Adding to the plight, the use of generators have also pushed the production cost to three-fold.

Meanwhile, the open access to power is available to units consuming above 1 MW. At present there are around 250 units which are getting this facility; the majority being steel furnaces and rolling mills. However, the heavy industry is facing 48 hours' power cut, and with the added Sunday holiday, industrial production and manufacturing has been brought down by half in the state.

Moreover, with the land acquisition trouble ongoing in the neighbouring UP and Haryana, Punjab has laid a smooth passage for inviting industries. The IT companies would get exemption from stamp duty and registration fees for land transfer subject to conditions and 100 per cent stamp duty exemption on purchase/lease of built up office space within constructed IT park.

The Punjab Government has created a Rs 20 crore fund to help small and medium entrepreneurs in the IT sector and provide grant of subsidy and financial support to the IT companies for obtaining quality certification. This fund is expected to be increased to 100 crore, according to the government sources. Sud said Punjab’s IT and software exports have crossed the Rs 1,000 crore mark.

JPN