Days after it decided to scrap the textile park near Mattewara forest in Ludhiana, the Punjab Government has started the process to identify an alternate site for the mega project planned under a central scheme.
The industries and commerce department has identified three sites in Mohali, Rupnagar and Pathankot districts for the proposed textile park that has requirement of minimum 1,000 acres of land, a senior officer privy to discussions said.
The process to select the alternate site, which was started after Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on July 11 announced to cancel the original plan to set it up in Koom Kalan tehsil, is still at an initial stage and the availability of panchayat land is being ascertained.
The State Government had pitched the site to the central government for one of the seven textile parks planned across the country under the Prime Minister Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (PM-MITRA) scheme having an initial outlay of Rs. 4,445 cr.
Availability of contiguous and encumbrance-free land parcel of over 1,000 acres along with other textiles-related facilities was a primary requirement for consideration of any site for setting up the project.
The selection of sites is to be made by the Centre on the basis of five metrics – connectivity to site, existing ecosystem, the availability of utility services, state industrial/textile policy, and environmental and social impact. A team of the Union textiles ministry led by special secretary VK Singh visited the 957-acre site in Ludhiana two months ago and met the state officials for assessment, pointing out contiguity-related issues. The industries department also later made a case for acquisition of additional 250 acres as some portions of land proposed for the project were under litigation.
Before additional land could be acquired, environmentalists and farmer bodies escalated their protest against the project, claiming that it posed threat to forest area, and the State Government scrapped the plan.
An aide of the Chief Minister said the government is looking for an alternate site and the Centre will be informed as soon as it is finalised. The sudden scrapping of site is being seen as a setback for the mega project as the central ministry is already assessing proposals from about a dozen other states. Another official, who had handled the project proposal, said that selection of an alternate site, particularly transfer of panchayat land for the project, would be a challenging task.
“When a policy was brought during the previous government for using panchayat land to set up industrial projects, there was massive opposition, including from the AAP. The only readily available and suitable option as per the metrics decided by the central ministry seems to be the 1,500-odd acres of land of the closed Bathinda thermal plant where the government recently decided to develop a township,” he said, requesting anonymity.
The pervious Congress government had proposed the site to the Centre for setting up a pharmaceutical park, but the project got delayed and the new government decided not to pursue it. The industry department officials, however, feel that being a major textile hub, the state has a strong case and would be able to bag the textile park project. Punjab is among the top 10 states for textile and garment exports, supplying primarily to the US, UAE, UK and Australia.
As per the scheme notified by the central government, the textile parks will be set up at greenfield (fresh) or brownfield (existing) site locations in different states to create an integrated value chain right from spinning, weaving, processing/dyeing and printing to garment manufacturing at a single location. For a greenfield park, the central government’s capital development support will be 30 percent of project cost with a cap of Rs. 500 cr. The textile parks are proposed to be developed in a public-private partnership (PPP) mode.