Highway closure: ‘Traders suffered losses worth Rs 1,500 crore’

SRINAGAR: The cumulative loss suffered by the traders in Kashmir Valley due to frequent closure of the Jammu-Srinagar highway in the last 15 days is Rs 1,500 crore, Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) said Thursday.
“A conservative estimate is that a loss of over Rs 100 crore is suffered by the Valley trade every day. In the present context, closure of 15 days means that trading community has suffered a loss of around Rs 1,500 crore,” KEA, one of the premier representative bodies of the traders in Kashmir, said in a press statement issued here.
KEA said it has been fighting hard for “realistic alternatives” to overcome the severe economic losses caused by the bad weather, which results in closure of the highway—the Valley’s only road link to the outside world.
The state government and New Delhi, it said, have made numerous promises of ending the region’s dependence on the only highway.
“Mughal road, Doda-Kapran road, and Kashtiwar-Simthan road through Vilou tunnel have all been considered as alternatives and works undertaken on all. Somehow, these projects have never been completed, so that normal and diversion traffic, during closure of main highway, could move,” the amalgam said, adding that the state has no record of the days for which the highway may have remained closed in the last half a century.
“Even if the record exists, the government would not make it public,” it said.
KEA accused the governments of having a “half-hearted and secondary-kind” of attitude towards the projects, which were conceived as alternatives.
“India as a whole has seen revolution in national road connectivity. Sadly, this revolution has not touched the Valley. Even widening of roads, especially of NH 1, has not been completed so far, and lags behind by decades to other similar projects elsewhere,” it said.
Terming the state’s economy a victim of regional politics, KEA asked the state government to be “considerate and sympathetic” towards the needs of the Valley.