Pulwama, which has been in the news for being the terror hotbed in Kashmir, might soon be known as the Pencil slate district of India.Pulwama is making pencils of soft slate and now 90 per cent of the raw material supply will be sourced from 17 units set up in the district.
All major companies of pencil making units in the country procure their slates from Pulwama.Manzoor Ahmad Ellahi, who has been in the business since 2010 and among the first to start the business in Kashmir says: “First made the blocks and later got the machines to make the slates. Poplar wood is used for it, and it grows in abundance in Kashmir, he also says that around 150 employees both men and women are working in his factory.”
According to General Manager District Industries Centre (DIC) Pulwama Zahoor Magray, “in Pulwama district there are 17 slate pencil factories in which 11 are in the organized sector and 6 in the unorganized sector. If I give details of full country 90 per cent of slate supplies are sent from Kashmir Valley and out of this 80 per cent raw material is supplied from district Pulwama and being sent to major pencil factories like Natraj etc”.
These factories employ hundreds of labourers, both locals and outsiders. A local resident working at one of teh factories says: “After graduation, I submitted job forms at many places but nothing happened. After that I joined this factory and got a job.” He also said the government should support these units so that more youths are engaged in this sector.
An employee of the unit Manoj Kumar said, “We have been working here for the last 5 years. I am from outside Jammu and Kashmir, and locals here also work with us.”
Manzoor Ahmad Ellahi, owner of a pencil slate unit said, “In our factory here 100 to 150 workers are working which are from here and also from outside the Union Territory. This product is used for making pencils. The Industries department and district administration are helping us a lot.”