President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said that Jhelum is an important district of population exceeding 1.2 million with huge potential of agriculture, industry, mineral and tourism. The agriculture products are comprised of various commodities, vegetables and fruits including ground nuts, rice, wheat and sugar cane. More than 100 industrial units are established in the city including cement, flour, chemical, tobacco, textile composite and oil mills with a small industrial zone to facilitate industrialists. Jhelum has very rich reserves of mineral resources. Minerals like Rock Salt, Brine, Gypsum, Coal, Limestone, Marble and Silica Sand are being exploited commercially by private and public sector agencies in the district.
The Veteran Business Leader while talking to the business community of Jhelum said that under the early-harvest CPEC projects Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant was included; first of four turbines commenced operations in April 2018. When all four turbines become fully operational they will add 969 MW to the national grid. Several small dams have been established including Karot, Tainpura, Jammergal, Domeli, Gurha Utam Singh, Shah Habib and Fatehpur dam, which have strengthen the irrigation system in addition to development of electricity generation.
The Former Minister said that Jhelum has several tourist attraction points which may be used to boost tourism in the country after renovation on modern lines. The tourism points include Kewra Salt Mines, Tilla Jogian, Rohtas Fort and Jhelum River. Kewra is a major tourist attraction, drawing up to 40,000 visitors a year while Tilla Jogian being the highest peak in the Eastern Salt Range also attracts many people. Fish farms, modern restaurants, fast foods spots and shops containing locally manufactured products can be established to boost commercial activities and facilitate tourists. The MNA from Jhelum and federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry has shown interest in developing and preserving ancient sites in the locality; thus expected that tourism in the area will be increased.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that there exists good scope for organized dairy farms, cattle / goats / sheep fattening farms, cattle / poultry feed mills, leather shoes and leather products’ units can also be established in Jhelum. Government should establish livestock farms to facilitate benefit and attract local investors in order to revive the livestock sector in the district.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that given to the current economic situation where trade deficit is reported as $ 15 bn, current account deficit reached $ 6 billion, foreign investment is a mere $ 900 million while USD has aggressively appreciated to Rs. 138 in the first five months of current fiscal year, government needs to search and explore new avenues of investment, trade and industry. Every sector of the economy should be simultaneously activated so that collective efforts can be made to strengthen the national economy.