hill farming policy; focus on improving health infrastructure imperative

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 hill farming policy; focus on improving health infrastructure imperative

DEHRADUN Uttarakhand has emerged on top by clocking highest compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5 per cent and 12.3 per cent in industry and services sectors respectively during the decadal period between 2004-05 and 2014-15 among states across India and also much better than national average growth of about seven per cent, noted a just-concluded ASSOCHAM study.

“Uttarakhand has registered remarkable economic growth and industrial development as the state has recorded CAGR of over 12 per cent during the aforementioned period, which is highest among major states in India,” highlighted the ASSOCHAM study titled ‘Uttarakhand on expressway to growth.’

Interestingly, Uttarakhand’s contribution to India’s economy has also marginally increased from just about 0.8 per cent in 2004-05 to 1.2 per cent 2013-14, noted the study prepared by the ASSOCHAM Economic Research Bureau (AERB).The chamber’s study was released at a press conference in Dehradun by Mr Babu Lal Jain, chairman, ASSOCHAM Uttarakhand Development Task Force and national secretary general, Mr D.S. Rawat. Services sector which includes hospitality & tourism, hotels & restaurants, transport, storage, communication, banking and finance and other such activities accounted for 51 per cent share in gross state domestic product (GSDP) in 2014-15 thereby increasing from 49.5 per cent in 2004-05.

“Uttarakhand holds significant potential for growth and expansion of services sector which can generate additional economic activity and employment in the state,” suggested the ASSOCHAM study.

“Tourism and hospitality being a major segment under services sector in Uttarakhand and also being mainstay of its economy, it is heartening to note that domestic and foreign tourists’ arrival in the state has picked up after it was hit by massive floods and landslides in June 2013, mostly due to swift action by the state government,” said Mr Jain.

While industrial sector accounted for about 39 per cent share in the GSDP in 2014-15 thereby increasing from 27 per cent a decade ago.However it is noted that Uttarakhand’s performance on agriculture and allied activities paints a grim picture as its share in the GSDP has declined sharply from over 22 per cent in 2004-05 to just over nine per cent in 2014-15.

Besides, the agriculture sector in Uttarakhand has recorded a poor CAGR of just about three per cent between 2004-05 and 2014-15 largely due to sandy soils that do not retain water for long which hits crop productivity.Though it is important to note that state’s agriculture and allied sector has registered a growth rate of over five per cent which is better than negative growth of 2.5 per cent recorded in the previous year.It is mainly due to priority given to developing irrigation infrastructure in the state including the canal network and also lift canals, tube well, pump sets and others.

“Considering that over 51 per cent of state’s total workforce and about 67 per cent of total rural workers depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihood, Uttarakhand government should promote a separate policy for hill farming,” suggested the ASSOCHAM study.

“Apart from promotion of local and traditional hill crops, farmers need to be given adequate cover in terms of welfare schemes and adequate technical and financial support for water conservation should also be extended by the state administration,” it said. Significant developments in terms of infrastructure development be it increase in road density, fall in power deficit which has almost halved from about three per cent in 2012-13 to 1.7 per cent in 2015-16 and high literacy rate of about 80 per cent are certain other positives for Uttarakhand. However Uttarakhand government needs to perk up infrastructure in the health sector to facilitate state inhabitants’ access to health centres across the state.

Investment scenario in U’khand:

Uttarakhand’s robust economic growth has encouraged investors to invest in the state as outstanding investments have increased to Rs 1.45 lakh crore as of 2015-16 registering year-on-year growth of about 24 per cent.“Electricity, infrastructure, construction and real estate are top three priority sectors for investors to invest in 2015-16 with a combined share of almost 97 per cent,” noted the ASSOCHAM study.

Uttarakhand has also figured as the second best performing state in terms of project implementation. “Projects with investment share of about 39 per cent were under implementation in various stages as of 2015-16 which shows faster implementation of projects and ease of doing business in the state.” State should provide investment facilitation policies like providing single window facilitation, ensuring long-term finance availability to investors especially in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to promote tourism, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, textiles and forest-based industries.In its study, ASSOCHAM has suggested the Uttarakhand government to give special thrust on improving road network to propel industrial, economic and social development across the state.

Apart from this, the state should work on improving health infrastructure facilities through steps like standardising diagnostic procedures, building rural clinics, developing streamlined health systems, improving efficiency of state hospitals and clinics.Promotion of food processing industries, bolstering sector-specific infrastructure like warehouses, cold storages and others to avoid spoilage of perishable products are other key suggestions by ASSOCHAM that are aimed at further improving industrial scenario in Uttarakhand.

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