Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal Friday said that a high-level task force comprising officials of the central and state governments would be constituted to “accelerate the pace of industrial development” in Himachal Pradesh.
The union minister made the announcement while addressing a session on the concluding day of Himachal Pradesh Global Investors Meet in Dharamshala.
“I have taken permission from (Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister) Jai Ram (Thakur) ji for the high-level task force. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary will head the task force,” Goyal said.
The union minister further said the task force will study schemes of Centre and State for better implementation to accelerate the speed of development.
Goyal said the task force will comprise officials from Centre’s department of Agriculture, Food Processing, Railways and Tourism and the officials of state government. He said it would give its recommendations in three month time. The task force, the minister said, would be accelerating the speed of schemes of the Centre and Himachal Pradesh, and enhancing the facilities.
The minister, who also holds the Railways portfolio, added that the task force’ recommendations would help chalk out the strategy for the next investment meet.
“Main to Railway mantri bhi hun.. double engine ban ke kaam karen to is vikaas ki gati bari tej ho sakti hai (I am the railways minister also..if we work like double engine the pace of development can be very fast),” he added.
The union minister said, “After listening to the speakers here and seeing the literature, my self-confidence has increased very much that Himachal is going to make a lot of progress in attracting new investment…new opportunities are opening up ..We will succeed in fulfilling the expectations of people of Himachal Pradesh,” said Goyal who also made the valedictory address as Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was scheduled to make the address, could not make it to the summit due to uncertainty in weather conditions.
When one of the participants requested him to make an announcement on rail link during a session, Goyal said that announcements used to happen before 2014. The union minister said he had details of 1000 announcements of new rail tracks, new trains and new stations. “The estimated cost to fulfil those announcement in today’s date is Rs 30 lakh crore,” he said, adding that announcements were politically-motivated and nothing used to happen after the elections.
“Rs 108 crore used to be spent annually on railway network in Himachal Pradesh prior to formation of the BJP-led government at the Centre in 2014 and that translated to Rs 540 crore between 2009 to 2014,” he said.
Goyal claimed that between 2014 and 2019, Rs 1800 crore were spent on the state.
“Many changes have been made in Kalka to Shimla [railway] line, speed has been increased, and the travel time has been reduced by one hour. My effort is to reduce it by another hour,” said Goyal.
Responding to another question on lowering import duty on high-end machines, Goyal said he would get the matter looked into but underlined that, “Import duty if imposed on high quality machines will pave the way for their indigenous production.”
He added a lot precision machinery was manufactured in Switzerland and Germany due to good and cold weather conditions. The Centre will examine if something can be set up here for manufacturing of precision machinery, Goyal said.