Blessed with an eternal beauty and natural resources, Himachal Pradesh has leapfrogged into the top league of industrialised states in the country.
Horticulture is still the main stay of many households.
But the state is reaping the benefits of skilled youth who excel in a number of high-tech industries with their hard work.
A transparent governance has ensured the state is able to attract big businesses who are setting up operations in the districts to cash in on liberal incentives, subsidies and skilled labour.
In an agrarian economy like Himachal, the industry absorbs underemployed and unemployed workers from the agricultural sector.
The state government has initiated several steps to accelerate the pace of industrialisation.
Apart from providing time-bound clearances for setting up of new industrial units, an attractive package of incentives is being provided to potential entrepreneurs in the state.
This has not only helped the state in attracting investment, but also ensured ample job opportunities to the local youth.
The government has established a state-level Single Window Clearance and Monitoring Authority (SWC&MA) to ensure time-bound clearances to industrial proposals.
To fast track the process of according time-bound approval to the proposals, the government has introduced a common application for seeking approval of setting up industries in the state.
The authority through this common application form is now according approvals within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of application form.
The SWC&MA in its eleven meetings held till June 2015 has approved 75 new proposals for setting up of industrial projects, besides approving 122 expansion proposals in the state.
These combined proposals were expected to attract investment worth Rs 10,879.17 crore and provide employment to over 20,402 people.
Many big corporate houses such as United Biotech, Reliance group, Mahavir Spinning Mills, Torrents Pharma and Himalaya Alkalizes and Chemicals have chosen Himachal for setting up their operations.
While the existing units of Ranbaxy Laboratories, Su-Kam Power Systems, Procter and Gambles, Johnson and Johnson, Mankind Pharma, Havells India, Abbott Healthcare and Dabur India are expanding their facilities in the state.
The government has constituted an Investment Promotion Cell to provide escort services to entrepreneurs.
The IPC will also monitor the implementation of infrastructure projects in the state in a focused manner.
In addition, an Investor Advisory Council has been formed under the chairmanship of Chief Minister with representatives of industries, to create a platform for deliberation of policy issues for industrial development in the state.
'Industry by Invitation' has been the motto of the state government.
Special investor meets are organised in the different parts of the country to inform the business community on the infrastructure facilities in Himachal.
The first phase of investor meet was held in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad in November 2014 by the HP Investment Cell in collaboration with the CII.
This endeavour has yielded good results with 104 projects worth Rs 4,189.07 crore have been approved by the SWC&MA.
According to officials, these projects if taken to logical conclusion would provide employment to over 12,077 persons.
The upcoming industrial projects have been given two years’ time to seek mandatory and statutory approvals from the line departments.
A number of incentives are being provided to the potential investors.
Electricity duty for the specified extra high tension (EHT) category consumers has been reduced from existing 15% to 13%.
Further, the electricity duty for the existing medium and large industries except EHT category has been reduced from the existing rate of 13% to 11%
Similarly, for any existing small industry, electricity duty has been reduced from existing 7% to 5%.
And new small industry would now be required to pay only 1% electricity duty for the first 5 years.
Only 2% electricity duty is being charged for first five years from enterprise generating employment to 300 bonafide Himachalis.
Apart from this, only 50% stamp duty is being charged on sale or lease deed for setting up a new industry.
Three state-of-the-art industrial areas are being developed in Una, Kangra and Solan districts.
These industrial areas would provide a set of infrastructure facilities to the entrepreneurs.
An amount of Rs 107 crore would be spend on developing industrial area at Kandrori in Kangra district and Rs 112 crore on developing an industrial area at Pandoga in Una district.
As on 31 December 2014 there are 40,429 industrial units registered with the Industries Department on permanent basis having the total investment of Rs 18,307.95 crore.
Industries employ 2,84,599 persons as on December 2014. There are roughly 502 industrial units in the medium and large scale categories.
In principle approval for the development of industrial area at Kandrori in Kangra district and Pandoga in Una district received from the Central government under the Modified Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme (MIIUS).
The forest land measuring 515 bighas has been identified for the development of 3rd industrial area at Dabhota in Solan district.
During 2013-14 and 2014-15, five projects were sanctioned under central component of ASIDE (Assistance to states for development of export infrastructure), in Una, Solan and Sirmour districts.
Total project cost of Rs 71.45 crore has been sanctioned by the Centreinvolving Rs 57.96 crore ASIDE grant. Out of this, Rs 35.49 crore has been released to the state.
80% construction work of one project, i.e., improvement and strengthening of link road Ajouli (Punjab border) to Santokhgarh, Taliwala industrial area in Una has been completed and balance work will be completed soon.
Sericulture provides employment to about 9,200 rural families for supplementing their income by producing silk cocoons.
13 silk yarn reeling units have been set up in the private sector --Kangra and Bilaspur districts five each; and one each in Hamirpur,Mandi and Una districts with the assistance of the government.
Good quality limestone, the basic ingredient of cement, is available in plenty in the state.
Presently six cement plants (two units) of ACC at Barmana (Bilaspur),two units of Ambuja at Kashlog (Solan), one unit of J.P. Industry at Baga-Bhalag and one unit of CCI at Rajban (Sirmour) are in operation.
The setting up of three other major cement plants at Sundernagar (Mandi) by Harish Cement (Grasim); in Gumma-Rohahah (Shimla) by the India Cement; and in Alsindi (Mandi) by Lafarge India are underway.
The mining leases have been granted in their favour of these enterprises.
Other commercially exploitable minerals in the state are shale, barite, silica sand, rock salt, quartzite, building materials likesandstone, sand, bajri and building stone.