The Centre last year said Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), would invest in infrastructure and other projects in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Sinha, who is in Dubai this week to promote investment, said DP World would soon visit the 250 acre site earmarked for the inland port facility.
“We will finalise it shortly,” he told Reuters news agency, describing the project as a “firm commitment” by state-owned DP World.
A DP World spokesperson said the company had a “productive meeting” with Sinha on Thursday and that it was preparing a proposal for the project.
The announcement last October that Dubai would invest in the region was the first by any foreign government since Kashmir’s autonomy was revoked in 2019 and the Muslim-majority state was divided into two territories directly ruled by New Delhi.
It is not clear where the port will be established but “Gulf Business” quoting DP World reported recently that discussions took place for a potential ‘multi-modal’ logistics park and hub in Jammu comprising warehouses and storage to “encourage inter-modal transfer of containers, bulk and break-bulk cargo.”
Emirati newspaper Khaleej Times reported this week that Dubai developer Emaar Properties would build a mall in Srinagar.
Lulu Group, an UAE-headquartered company headed by an Indian billionaire, also plans to set up a food processing hub in Kashmir.
But investment in the heavily militarised Jammu and Kashmir is fraught with risk. There are frequent attacks by militants, while the Indian government has at times faced international criticism for widespread crackdowns there by security forces.
“As far militancy is concerned, we are dealing with it … and I can assure it will be dealt (with) fully” said Sinha, who insisted the region was a safe place for foreign investment.
“UAE is a launching pad for Jammu and Kashmir and its products to enter other Arab countries and also the rest of the world. With the coming up of an inland port by DP world, our freight problems will be solved and Kashmir’s products will reach the world markets. Our farmers will benefit with the production unit. We are going to have a sea change in Kashmir,” Sinhas was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times.
Asked when the mall and the port will materialise, Sinha said: “There is no delay from our side. It is in our interest that projects kickstart at the earliest and we are facilitating it.”
He said the government is issuing permissions through a single-window system within 30 days.
“The land acquisition has been made easier through a landmark judgement. Our electricity is cheaper than any other state. We are also offering incentives on return of investments for businesses,” he said.
Lulu Group To Set Up Food Processing Hub
UAE-based retail major Lulu group also on Thursday said it will invest Rs 200 crore in Jammu & Kashmir to set up a food processing and logistic hub.
The Lulu group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the J&K government in this regard, the company said in a statement.
The company will invest Rs 200 crore in the first phase.
The announcement was made by Lulu Group Chairman Yusuff Ali M A in the presence of J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha during the MoU signing ceremony held in Dubai on Thursday.
The MoU was signed by Ranjan Prakash Thakur, principal secretary (industries and commerce), Government of Jammu & Kashmir; and Ashraf Ali MA, executive director of Lulu Group.
Manoj Sinha, who is on a three-day official visit to the UAE, also inaugurated ‘Kashmir Promotion Week’ at Lulu Hypermarket, Silicon Central Mall.
Sinha termed it as a “historic agreement” and said the trade between Jammu & Kashmir and Dubai has remained steady and it reflects the resilience of the deep economic linkages.
“Relations between India and the UAE are long-standing and deep-rooted. People-to-people contact and trade have seen momentum in the recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the lieutenant governor said.
The week-long promotion will highlight Kashmiri fruits, vegetables, Saffron, dry fruits, pulses, handicrafts and other specialty products.
Yusuffali MA said: “In the first phase, we will be investing Rs 200 crore; and subsequently, another Rs 200 crore has been earmarked for further expansion.”
“Setting up of a Lulu Hypermarket is also in the plan. I am sure these projects will not only give considerable employment opportunities to the local youth but also benefit the agri sector and farmers immensely,” he added.
Last month, the Lulu group announced an investment of Rs 2,000 crore near Ahmedabad to set up a modern shopping mall.
It also announced an investment of Rs 500 crore to set up a food processing plant in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
The company will set up 100 per cent export-oriented food and agri-produce processing park in Greater Noida.
In India, the Lulu group already has four operational shopping malls at Kochi, Thrissur, Trivandrum and Bengaluru.
The mall at Bengaluru is not owned by the Lulu group but it is managing and operating the property.
The Lulu group currently has 220 hypermarkets and shopping malls in the Middle East, Egypt, India, Malaysia and Indonesia with a global workforce of over 57,000 employees.
The world-famous GI-tagged saffron has been launched at LuLu Hypermarket, which is a major step towards boosting the Jammu & Kashmir-Dubai partnership, Sinha said.
He added that the LuLu group is already importing apples from Jammu & Kashmir and with saffron, “we are adding Kashmir’s finest spice to the basket”.
The group’s business portfolio ranges from hypermarket operations to shopping mall development, manufacturing and trading of goods, food processing plants, wholesale distribution, hospitality assets, and real estate development. (KO)