Stating that the inefficient and inept Akali Dal-BJP government was responsible for the industrial exodus from Punjab,the state Congress on Monday claimed that the denial of such reports by two leading houses was issued under government duress.
In a joint statement issued here,Congress leaders PPCC vice-president O P Soni,Rajanbir Singh,Ludhiana MLA (North) Rakesh Pandey,Ludhiana MLA (Central) Surinder Dawar,Ludhiana MLA (West) Bharat Bhushan Ashu said the state government had pressurised Hero Cycles and Khanna Paper Mills to deny that they were setting up units in other states.
They claimed that it is well known that industrialists would not like to antagonise an arrogant leader like Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and hence the industrialists had to tow the government line. The situation,however,indicated the deep rot inflicting the industrial and financial economy of the state which was once known for its strong small and medium enterprises sector,their statement reads.
The Punjab Congress leaders said that in spite of a new industrial policy and a slew of incentives,including VAT retention of up to 80 per cent of investment,no new investment worth its name had come to the state,whereas delegation after delegation from various sectors had been visiting Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to set up units there. They urged the government to refrain from a blame game and introspect on what was behind the exodus. They accused the Badal family of mismanaging the economy by having its fingers in every facet of the states economy whether it was virtual monopoly of transport business,mining business,real estate projects and cable TV,to name a few.
Even the PIMS hospital at Jalandhar has not been spared and has been acquired by a company owned by a cabinet minister for a 99-year lease at throwaway prices, the Congress leaders alleged.
They said Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa was right in claiming that major industrial houses had chosen to expand and diversify outside Punjab,since entrepreneurs had to contend with an extortionist regime in the state and whereas a much better enabling climate is available in other states. They further said that proof of de-industrialisation of Punjab was evident from flight of 274 industrial units to the neighbouring hill states from 2004 to 2010 resulting in capital flight of Rs 3,674 crore.