The calm and quaint Himalayan terrain of Kargil and Leh is booming with production activities as a result of the self-sustainable employment created under the government’s flagship Prime Minister Employment Generation Program (PMEGP). Since 2017-18, nearly 1000 different small and medium manufacturing units have come up creating over 8200 employment opportunities for local youths.
From 2017-18 to 2020, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), the nodal implementing agency for the PMEGP scheme, has established 802 projects in Kargil and 191 projects in the Leh region creating 6781 jobs in Kargil and 1421 jobs in Leh. The KVIC disbursed Rs 26.67 crore as margin money for these projects in Kargil, and Rs 5.68 crore in the Leh region during this period.
From manufacturing cement blocks to iron and steel items, automobile repair workshops, tailoring units, wooden furniture manufacturing units, wood carving units, cyber cafe, beauty parlours and making gold jewellery are a few of the initiatives that have been supported under PMEGP, enabling the locals to earn a respectable livelihood.
Even during the first six months of 2020-21, which had been marred by the Covid-19 lockdown, KVIC helped locals to set up 26 new projects in Kargil and 24 new projects in Leh in different sectors that created 350 jobs in the two regions.
KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena attributed these new employment opportunities in Kargil and Leh to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for all-round development of the environmentally challenging Leh-Ladakh region which is accessible only six months in a year.
“Kargil and Leh have shown immense potential for sustaining various manufacturing activities. Leh and Kargil remain disconnected from the rest of the country for almost six months. However, these production units will ensure local availability of goods in these regions throughout the year,” Saxena said.
Expressing happiness, the beneficiaries in Kargil and Leh said that they did not have to migrate to other states in search of jobs after they started their own production units. This not only created self-employment for them but also created job opportunities for many other unemployed youths in the region.
Mohammad Bakir, a resident of Minji village in Kargil, who started a cement block production unit with an initial loan of Rs 10 lakh, is now registering an annual turnover of Rs 52 lakh. He has employed eight persons in his manufacturing unit.
Similarly, Ismail Nasiri, engaged in the production of iron and steel items, began his unit in Poyen village in Kargil with Rs 25 lakh. He has now employed 10 persons and is registering an annual turnover of Rs 76 lakh.
This has also prompted local women to take up self-employment proactively who were otherwise reluctant to move out and work independently. Supported by KVIC, a number of women entrepreneurs are successfully operating cutting, tailoring units and beauty parlours in these districts.
Hamida Banoo, a woman entrepreneur in Baroo in Kargil, took up cutting-tailoring activity and went on to employ three other women in her unit. Hamida’s annual turnover has reached Rs 12 lakh.
The development of the Leh-Ladakh region has been a prime objective of the Central Government. Special thrust has been given to the creation of local employment in the region ever since its bifurcation from Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.