For decades Haryana has been the country's powerhouse for industrial growth but lopsided and myopic planning means the state has become a victim of blind industrialisation. Cities such as Hissar, Bahadurgarh, Faridabad, Gurgaon all are home to various industries and even famous for some world class industries. Yet, the government has failed to plan sustainable development along with rapid industrialisation. It has failed to develop infrastructure to match the scale of industrialisation and devise effective enforcing machinery to prevent large scale corruption so commonly associated with development. As a result today all these industrial towns are victims of haphazard growth.
Take the example of Gurgaon. The district is a major industrial centre with industries ranging from automobiles industries to readymade garments, packaging, electrical, chemical & pharmaceutical, engineering, plastic, rubber, to Information Technology.
The district has ten major accident hazard (MAH) units which, because of myopic planning, are not concentrated at one place but spread over Gurgaon and Manesar area. Time and again the government has been warned that units with mounded propane or LPG installations have a potential threat in terms of vapour cloud explosions. There is also always very high risk of mishaps involving release during unloading operations. Besides, Gurgaon is also exposed to various potential industrial and chemical accidents like fire, spillage, explosion, leakage, etc. during chemical processing, manufacturing, storage, transport and disposal of toxic wastes.
As the city lives on the edge, its proximity to the Bawal industrial area of Rewari district further makes both the districts vulnerable to chemical hazards also because of the regular transportation of large quality of chemicals and hazardous materials. Experts have pointed out at the multiple types of vulnerabilities because of massive population exodus due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation within high risk seismic zone. Besides, the haphazard growth has put tremendous pressure on infrastructure and ecology. Studies show that the shallow ground water of the district is alkaline in nature and mostly unsuitable for drinking purposes in 88% of wells. Indeed the district generates 60 per cent of Haryana's revenue but the hazard profile of Gurgaon actually means that the entire state has high economic vulnerability in case any major disaster strikes this prime commercial hub.
Yet, this blind race for industrialisation is prevalent across the state without adequate safeguards.
Just consider the following:
- A few years ago, the union ministry of environment and forests had imposed a moratorium on setting up of new industries in Faridabad and Panipat towns of Haryana because of the polluting units. The moratorium was lifted in 2011 only on the condition that the industrial units adhered to strict pollution and environment guidelines. Yet, a recent research findings published in International Research Journal of Environment Sciences in 2014 showed that in Panipat, the ground water was unfit for drinking purposes for living organisms including human in the 10 km area around the Panipat Sugar Mill.
- A report prepared by the industrial association and the farmers in Manesar have warned of the consequences of rapid industrialisation of fertile land and claimed if the government acquired the remaining 6,000 acres for industrial development, the region will lose around 14,000 tonnes of food grains. Yet, the government has notified seven villages in the region for the purpose. The poor villagers too are opposing the program due to under-pricing of land.
For long protests have been made in Haryana over issues such as forcible acquisition of farmland by big industrial houses, which are aided and abetted by the state government in the name of industrialisation and creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). There has been a deliberate attempt to grab fertile, cultivable agriculture land from the farmers in the name of SEZs. Yet SEZs cannot be a feasible idea as Haryana does not have access to any port. Land in Haryana is very fertile and the government policy of giving away fertile land for industrial activity is ruining agriculture and farmers in the state.
Hence, instead of myopic industrialisation, what are required in the state are people-centric policies. Blind industrialisation has given scope to crony capitalism and corruption in the state. Corruption penetrates every sector of the society and industrialisation has failed to tackle the issue of unemployment in the state in absence of quality education. While there are many high quality institutes in the state, there is dearth of proper quality of education at the primary level both in the urban and the rural areas.
The need of the hour is better, sustainable infrastructure to match the pace of industrialisation. The thrust should also be on more agro-based industries than ill conceived urban industrial centres.