‘Oukhoo; Pencil village of India’ in Pulwama writes its own growth story: The Tribune India
The village of Oukhoo in Pulwama district of South Kashmir popularly known as “Pencil Village of India” has written its own growth story as it provides 90% of the raw material to the units of manufacture of pencils of the country in addition to exporting it to 150 countries with the hand of JK government.
Previously, India imported wood supplies from countries like China. But since 2010, local entrepreneurs have decided to use the famous Kashmir poplars, a particularly flexible wood that makes it the most suitable for making pencils. Poplar wood grows best in the valleys of Kashmir where the moisture content is ideal and weather conditions allow the wood to remain soft as the tree grows.
The government’s announcement to resume offline classes has revived hopes of better business for Manzoor Ahmad Alai (45), owner of one of the biggest pencil slate factories in Oukhoo after a disappointment in broad daylight on his face during the Covid period.
In 2011, after Alai visited Jammu to learn the techniques of making wooden slats, from which pencils are cut, he set up a unit in Oukhoo with the help of Hindustan Pencils, one of the leading manufacturers and pencil exporters from India.
Soon others followed Alai’s lead and more latte making units were established.
“This spring has again brought spring into our lives too. Schools, colleges have reopened. We are now racing between supply and demand from major brands across the country. Most of my workers in the outside of JK have returned and others are also joining us in a few days to meet the demand,” Jubiliant Alia said. “The government has helped us, now we want 24-hour power to boost our production.
The village came into the limelight after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned its achievement on his monthly radio show ‘Mann Ki Baat’, where he spoke at length about ‘India’s Pencil Village’. . He had said that Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir is becoming a hub for pencil making.
“Today, Pulwama plays an important role in the education of the whole nation. If students all over the country are doing their homework, preparing notes, it is thanks to the hard work of the people of Pulwama,” Prime Minister Modi had said in his 70th speech at Mann Ki Baat.
“Nearly 90% of the pencil slate demand in the country is met by the Kashmir Valley and Pulwama is a major contributor to this. At one time, we imported the wood for the pencils, but now Pulwama is making the country self-sufficient in this field,” he said.
To give the necessary impetus to the industry, the Indian government has approved the new Industrial Development Program for Jammu and Kashmir. The program will go a long way towards ushering in an era of socio-economic development in the region while also meeting the aspirations of the people.
“The program is implemented with the vision that JK’s development led by industry and services should be given a new impetus with emphasis on job creation, skills development and sustainable development by attracting new investments and supporting existing ones,” Lieutenant Governor Manoj said. Sinha, said when launching the program.
The new industrial development program for JK will boost domestic manufacturing in the region and help UT become Aatma Nirbhar. It will encourage new investment, substantial expansion and also support existing industries in JK besides providing major support to local industry by creating new business opportunities.