The receding JK Cements

The administration should act with an iron hand in the interest of the public….

In the first week of March three important news items about bounding success in Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC), astounding decline in JK Cements and willful indifference within Rajbagh Silk Factory were prominently covered by the local press. All the three stories sum-up the existing scenario of states public sector. JKCCC success story probably is the only success story of its kind within our ailing public sector. A booming tourism related business venture, JKCCC requires to be assessed in isolation as it is a unique venture attracting lakhs of tourists every year. Its state of the art machinery and infrastructure; strategic location and monopoly in the field are bound to make it a success venture. No doubt the dedication and sincerity of its workers and the excellent management has had a positive impact on the working of JKCCC and enabled the project to scale new heights of success. As optimistic well-wishers we wish more success and good luck to every worker and manager at JKCCC.
The Silk factory mess speaks volumes about the fate of industrial units that we inherited from the autocratic rulers of Kashmir. The once flourishing twin factory of match box making and medicinal plants extraction at Baramulla along with several other units in the state using local raw material are now in ruins. The much talked and hyped industry sector in the state under the control of state industries department, state industrial development corporation (SIDCO) etc. have failed miserably to preserve and sustain these historic and eco-friendly industrial ventures.

Last but not the least, the waning destiny of one of our profitable industrial divisions in public sector—JK Cements! Once blooming industrial unit owned by the government is now on decline. The recent economic survey gives many reasons for fall in its production and drop in its overall profit making capability. JK Cements was considered the crown of JK industries and would cover all other misdeeds and follies of this public sector. But now this one time ‘industrial Navratan’ is facing trouble and is about to die an induced but shocking death. It is interesting to note that in the vicinity of twin units of JK Cements several private sector cement manufacturing units are not only flourishing but making huge profits. Then what are the compulsions that force JK Cements units with modern infrastructure to reduce its production against installed capacity of two lakh metric tons? It looks, beyond administrative apathy, corruption and the routine red tape-ism there is more behind the receding profits and declining production within JK Cements and that requires to be investigated, that too by an credible independent agency. Same technology, same raw-material at the disposal of both public sector and the private sector cement factories that too in the same catchment area, but the outcome both on production and profit making front are astonishingly diverse! In the back of my apparently skeptical mind some intuitional thought reminds me of the fate of our state run public transport system—the SRTC (State Road Transport Corporation). A corporation with huge fleet of trucks and passenger buses, hundreds of skilled workers and a huge infrastructure could not compete with unorganized small time transporters.
Reasons! Because in addition to usual corruption and management failure, shameless collusion of yard managers and drivers with private transporters by deceptively skipping the peak hour rush and avoiding lucrative routes the whole SRTC ended in a cesspool of loss and mismanagement. It can be my vague assumption but my gut feeling compels me to believe that the JK Cements failure story may have roots somewhere in the SRTC affair.  Both the situations look identical where private sector flourished under the same conditions but the public sector not only failed to sustain but failed miserably.
But on an optimistic note, this is high time to look into the affairs of most profitable cement industry in Kashmir and fix the responsibility for failure of once successful JK Cements. On the other hand everyone should feel proud of presently thriving private cement industry in Kashmir. No one can and no one should cast aspersions on the working of private sector in any field until their trade practices are fair and within the prescribed rules. However, if anyone is found to excel at the cost of public property and tax payers money then the administration should act, and act with an iron hand in the best interest of the public.