By Rajnish Singh
Although the “pace was slow due to Covid-19 pandemic”, a review report submitted to the Central government asserted that North India’s first Biotech Industrial Park project in Jammu and Kashmir will be ready by the end of February 2021 “possibly”.
Benefiting neighbouring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the report mentioned that round the clock work has now resumed to complete the project which is spread over an area of around 10.5 acres in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.
As per the report, the project work was delayed due to the over 60-day lockdown implemented across the country from March 25 to avoid the spread of coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic which has infected more than four million people in the country so far. With the beginning of Unlock 1.0, work continued on the project and it will possibly meet its second fixed deadline by the end of February, the report mentioned. The deadline of the project was earlier fixed for September.
While reviewing the project report on Saturday through video conferencing, Union Minister Jitendra Singh appreciated the fact that the work on the Biotech Industrial Park was “carrying on in spite of the constraints of COVID pandemic, although the pace was slow”, an official said.
Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Dr Shekhar Mande from New Delhi, Advisor to Lieutenant Governor Jammu and Kashmir Rajiv Bhatanagar from Srinagar and Dr D Srinivasa Reddy, Director IIIM from Jammu informed the Minister in the meeting that the deadline for the completion of the project had got delayed due to “Covid-19 related difficulties and the new deadline would possibly be around February 2021”.
Singh called for conducting awareness programmes to sensitise people about the new avenues of livelihood, startup ventures, entrepreneurship and research which will become available when the Biotech Park becomes functional.
While this park will carry out research on biodiversity and the medicinal and aromatic plants of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, it will also promote green category businesses. From the Kandi areas of Jammu division to Bhadarwah, Bani, Basohli and Kishtwar, the climatic yields of medicinal plants will be increased and farmers will have better income, apart from traditional farming.
Work has already been started by IIIM, Jammu to promote the entrepreneurial idea.In addition to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, this biotech park is going to be a big help to other states including Himachal and Punjab. Work on it started on February 10, 2019, following the personal interest in the project shown by Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh.
After the park is ready, scientists will be able to do research here.
Referring to the first ever Seed Processing Plant which is almost ready at Kathua, the Minister said the Biotech Park and Seed Processing Plant will be able to supplement each other’s resources and this would be in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers’ income. “The projects will promote economic development and also quality export projects.”
About the Canadian collaboration Cannabis Medicine Project launched at IIIM Jammu, Singh said this is the first major foreign investment in Jammu and Kashmir after its conversion into a Union Territory. He added that special permission had to be obtained to produce pain-relief medicine for patients suffering from cancer and diabetes from this plant. The medicine prepared from the cannabis plant can be utilised even for export to other countries, he said.
The Minister was also given an update about the Lemon Grass Cultivation Project launched by the CSIR on his personal intervention. He was informed that presently Lemon Grass cultivation has been undertaken in the districts of Kathua, Udhampur, Doda and Kishtwar.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])