Modi's last budget leaves the footwear industry satisfied, tourism industry disgruntled in Agra
In Agra, although the footwear industry did get some of its demands met in the budget, the tourism industry was left without any respite.
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley may not have given any direct benefits to the footwear industry, but several announcements he made, will have an indirect effect on the industry, as facilities like the textile industry will not only make the Agra shoes shine brighter, but also increase the production capacity of the industry.
This budget could bring the Agra footwear industry in a position to compete with the Chinese industry in the export segment.
The budget has provisioned Rs 500 crores for leather and footwear development.
A package of Rs 2600 crores has already been given to the footwear industry and Rs 200 crores will be spent on technological upgradation and modernization of footwear export units, which will benefit the Agra footwear industry, which has a 27 per cent share in the Indian footwear exports market and holds a gargantuan 65 per cent share in the domestic footwear market.
A total of 192 footwear units export footwear worth Rs 5500 crores annually to Europe and America and this number is steadily increasing with the increasing demand for the Indian footwear, which is quality wise superior to the Chinese footwear.
Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber Chairman Puran Dawar said that apart from the monetary packages, 12 Footwear Design and Development Institutes will also be established as centers of excellence in India, while a mega leather cluster will also be developed, for which Agra is a prime contender.
However, the tourism industry feels to have been let down by this budget. Approved Guides Association President Shamshuddin said that the budget has given peanuts to the tourism industry.
In the past four years, the tourism industry has got nothing from the government and even this budget is just for the big businessmen.
Tourism Guild's President Arun Dang said that tourism industry has a huge employment generation potential but it has been completely ignored in the budget.
Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association Ramesh Wadhwa said that the budget has disappointed the entire industry. Neither did the government grant Agra the status of Heritage City, nor was any scheme launched for the Taj Trapezium Zone. In every budget, the Modi government ignored the demands of the tourism industry and this budget was no different.
Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber Secretary Vishal Sharma said that the Taj Mahal is the country's tourism icon and it attracts lacks of tourists to India every year, but when it comes to giving Agra its due share in the developmental plans of the country, the city only sees more and more restrictions in the name of protecting the Taj Mahal.
He said that recently, Agra was white-zoned by the Ministry of environment, which meant that no new industrial units can be established in the city, which included new hotels and footwear units which are non-polluting industries.
"If the government was taking away the means of earning a livelihood from the people of Agra, then it should also ensure that it gives them an alternative means of survival", he said.
Sharma said that over 5 lakh people in Agra were directly or indirectly connected to the tourism industry and the future of these people was at stake, with the tourism industry going through a slump in the absence of government attention.
This time too, the finance minister blatantly ignored the tourism industry which indicates that this government is not at all sincere towards tourism development in India, despite what the PM Narendra Modi may have claimed time and again during his Agra visits.