Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal Sunday met with the Chinese Bicycle Association (CBA) in Shanghai and invited them to invest in Ludhiana, where 300 acres have been set aside for manufacturing high-end bicycles. Some Punjab industrialists though did not welcome the news and instead warned that it may hurt the prospects of micro, small and medium enterprises here.
Sukhbir said any investor wishing to set up a unit in the proposed cycle valley will receive quick clearance on pre-cleared sites. He assured them of cheap power, trained manpower as well as the best in terms of incentives and other policies. The government hopes to push exports from the valley from the existing USD 1 billion to USD 5 billion in the high-end bicycle segment.
“We will oppose this tooth and nail,” said Avtar Singh, president of Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings. “Big players of Ludhiana have already increased Chinese parts imports due to which many bicycle manufacturing units have shut shop. This step will further push the small players out of competition.”
Already 45 per cent of bicycle parts are coming from China and if Chinese companies invest in this valley, they will import more parts and thus kill the small industry.”
Sukhbir, however, said that the policy will favour the ancillary units of Ludhiana and will generate jobs for 1.5 lakh people, which can go up to 4.5 lakh if the valley reaches its full potential.
Varinder Kapur, another industrialist, said, “In this election year, Sukhbir is bound to make such announcements to please big industrial houses. However, if foreign investment comes to Ludhiana, we will oppose it. Till date, nothing has been done to reduce import of Chinese parts, and now Chinese companies are being asked to invest in Punjab.
Already, the so-called associations who have gone to this exhibition have only placed orders of bicycle parts and nothing has been done for technology transfer.”
“What about the small industry settled in mixed land use areas? A number of them have already been converted into mere trading units and now Punjab Government has weird plans for the rest as well,” said Jaswinder Thukral, from Janta Nagar small scale industrial association.
The industrialists said the Punjab government has failed to give the a proper research and development centre till date, which could have helped the local industry flourish.