While IPL 5 is adding fresh charm to the cricket in India, the occupation of the industrial estates by the security forces is threatening the future of once-flourishing cricket bat manufacturing industry in Kashmir.
Around 100 bat manufacturing units along the Srinagar-Anantnag highway to be displaced for much needed road widening have no space for relocation as the sports complex meant for the purpose is occupied by the security forces. The trouble over relocation means unemployment to around 3000 men working in the units and a major dent to the industry that produces an estimated 5, 00,000 bats of international standard annually.
“The unit holders on the highway need to be relocated for road widening, but the sports complex they could be shifted to is occupied by the security forces. Consequently, their future is under threat,” the president federation chamber of industries Kashmir (FCIK), Zahoor Ahmad, told Jk News.
The cricket bat sector in Kashmir Valley has more than 200 units, both registered and unregistered, with a collective turnover of over Rs 10 crore per year. However, it has struggling due to, what observers believe, official apathy. Despite the introduction of IPL, the losses borne by the industry have been phenomenal. The industry registered a turnover of just rupees 20 crores (from April 2011 to March 2012) as compared to rupees 98 crore (from April 2010 to March 2011) during the last season.
Perhaps realising the scope for the industry, the sports complex at Bijbehara was conceived for its organisation and the structures were raised inside it by the entrepreneurs. However, due to the start of militancy the complex was occupied by the security forces and occupied it stays till date.
“If the units are not relocated, around 3000 people may be rendered jobless, and the industry will be under a major loss,” Zahoor said.
The FCIK has so far succeeded in delaying the outcome by reaching out to the chief minister, Omar Abdullah.
“We had several meetings with the CM as a result of which the demolition of the units has not taken place so far. He had ordered the district administration to stop the demolition until the relocation problem was solved,” the president FCIK said, adding, “But the problem is not over yet.”
The Federation has now appealed the union home minister, P Chidambaram, for repositioning of the security forces deployed in the sports complex. The appeal came unanimously in a meeting of the unit holders and the FCIK office bearers.
“The FCIK hopes that the Home Minister shall consider our genuine demand and pass necessary orders for vacation of forces from these estates,” the president said.