Over a month ago, members of the Sports Goods Export Promotion Council (SGEPC), a central government-backed organisation, and officials of Process-cum-Product Development Centre (PPDC) in Meerut, a unit of Union ministry of MSME, were contacted by senior authorities of skills development in Jammu and Kashmir. They requested SGEPC to establish a bat manufacturing training centre in the Valley and urged PPDC officials to send at least six trainers from UP.
A common facility centre at Sethar in Anantnag district was then set up at a cost of Rs 4.61 crore, including Rs 2.46 crore spent on plant and machinery installed by PPDC. SGEPC member Sumnesh Agarwal said, “Meerut is known for manufacturing world class cricket bats. Hence, J&K authorities are trying to rope in artisans and experts from here. But, none of them are willing to go to Kashmir due to safety issues.”
A PPDC official, requesting anonymity, said, “This is despite the fact that a trainer is promised Rs 20,000 per month apart from food, lodging and other amenities. Security concerns can’t be overlooked though. Anantnag has recently witnessed a series of targeted violence against outsiders.”
Incidentally, there are seven clusters in Anantnag district where a common facility centre was set up by MSME.
“Kashmir is known for its good quality willow, a wood considered to be most suitable for cricket bats, while Meerut, known for manufacturing world class cricket bats, is home to a large number of craftsmen. Also, movement of Kashmir willow to the outside world is banned in its raw wood form and can be transported only in the form of semi-finished products. So, the bat industry in Meerut largely depends on willow imported from England at a very high cost,” the official added.