Once industrialists, now grocers & van drivers

Goindwal Sahib, Punjab: It was meant to boost their fortunes. But the plan went grossly awry for many industrialists at the country’s first Industrial Nucleus at Goindwal. The result: A life of despair.

Some of these entrepreneurs, who had set up 129 ancillary industrial units to feed eight proposed public sector industries, are now running kiryana shops, driving pick-up vans or making cots. Of the eight big industries, only two came to Goindwal. But only one — Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited — has managed to survive to date.

Septuagenarian Balbir Singh at his shop near the bus stand at Goindwal in Tarn Taran.

Septuagenarian Balbir Singh at his shop near the bus stand at Goindwal in Tarn Taran.

At present, at least 70 of 129 ancillary units have been shut down. Septuagenarian Balbir Singh, once the owner of an iron fabrication unit, Vishwakarma Industries, runs a small welding shop where he makes cots.

“I had done ITI course in 1962. After the 1984 Sikh Genocide in Delhi, we shifted here and took a loan of Rs 2.95 lakh to set up the unit,” says Balbir, who has lost all the money.

The story of Harpinder Singh, the heir of the once famous Majha Spinning, is no different. Harpinder now earns bread for his family with two pick-up vans. “We were shown big dreams which did not materialise,” he rues.

Kamaljit Singh, whose father owned Guru Nanak Industries that made ceiling fans, now runs a kiryana store. “My father had employed over a dozen workers and I could not even find a job for myself,” he laments.

A retired Colonel-turned-industrialist Amarjit Singh said, “The way government had acquired over 1,500-acre land, the pace at which roads were constructed and the then Prime Minister coming for the inauguration himself, people thought something big is going to happen. But many dreams were shattered.”

The people have incurred huge losses in this failed project for one predominant reason — government apathy, says Amarjit. Manjit Singh Randhawa, another industrialist, says though the state government has waived the interest, much more needs to be done to revive the industry.

Project Failure

  • Country’s first Industrial Nucleus was inaugurated at Goindwal by the Indian Prime Minister in 1988.
  • The purpose of the ancillary units was to feed eight public sector industries that the government had promised to set up at Goindwal
  • Of eight, only two, BHEL & Co-operative Spinning Mill, were set up
  • The spinning mill went out of business soon and the ancillary units had no one to sell their product to and incurred losses

Source: TNS

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