SRINAGAR: To recover from the losses incurred by the devastating September floods, the business fraternity of Kashmir Valley wants New Delhi to grant income tax holiday to the region for a “reasonable period of time.”
The demand was raised Friday by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), a prominent body representing business and industrial sector in Kashmir, in a meeting with the Governor N N Vohra at SK International Convocation Centre (SKICC) here.
In a press statement issued here, KCCI said its senior Vice President Mushtaq Ahmad Wani requested Vohra to ask New Delhi “to grant income tax holiday for a reasonable period of time to help recoup from the shock that the taxpayer business community has suffered due to floods.”
“…While a large number of people lost their houses, thousands of traders lost their houses as well as business establishments. Most of them didn’t have the insurance cover. The major brunt of the flood was borne by the business community with the main commercial markets almost wiped out,” Wani told the governor.
For relief to traders and artisans, KCCI has demanded extension in date of filing VAT returns, and compensation for handicraft, horticulture, and agriculture sectors.
Measures to revive tourism sector in the Valley should also be taken, he suggested.
Wani pointed out that the short term relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken by the state or New Delhi “have not been satisfactory”, creating a need “to make the Public Distribution System (PDS) more transparent and accountable for effective delivery (of essentials) to the needy.”
He asked the administration to be “pragmatic” and mindful of “material and market factors” in working out the ex-gratia amount to be given to the flood-affected families.
“The interim relief (amount) ranging from Rs 3800 to Rs 75,000 being paid under different categories of damages has been viewed by the sufferers as miserable and more hurting rather than bringing any practical relief,” he was quoted as saying.
The body has asked for extra power supply and remission of tariff in the Valley during winters.
“Need is to make arrangements for additional supply of power from the central grid to augment and ensure regular supply of electric power to the people. It will be a matter of great relief if remission of power tariff or electricity charges for the six months (winter) is considered,” Wani asked.
Wani said the authorities concerned must be directed “to make easier the process of granting rebuilding permissions” in the areas where constructions are otherwise prohibited.
The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority should be directed “to grant permission for rebuilding of damaged or collapsed houses and hotels that already existed in the LAWDA notified area,” he said.
Besides KCCI, Kashmir Hotel Owners Association, Traders and Manufacturers Association, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Transporters Association, Kashmir Hoteliers Association, House Boat Owners Association, J&K Handloom Union, Adventure Tourism Operators Union, Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir, and various bodies of tour operators were present in the meeting.
According to an official handout issued here, Vohra directed the Secretary Tourism to organise “publicity campaigns throughout India to attract a large number of tourists to visit the state.”