Kashmir economy severely hit by frequent highway blockades: JKSECC

Kashmir economy severely hit by frequent highway blockades: JKSECC

SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Socio Economic Coordination Committee (JKSECC), an umbrella body of various organisations of trade, industry, travel, tourism, horticulture, education, contractors, pharmaceutical, houseboat, bakers, transporters, and civil society, on Monday expressed concern at the business scenario in Kashmir valley.
Addressing a press conference here at the press club, the JKSECC said that an unprecedented situation has arisen due to frequent closure of the national highway, which is the only stretch of road connecting the valley with the rest of the world. The highway during the past almost one year has mostly remained affected due to landslides caused because of the ongoing construction works and bad weather conditions.
“The highway interruptions due to ongoing works, bad weather, and government ban (on civilian traffic twice a week) is essentially giving just one day a week to traders for movement of their goods either way. To this is added the punishment of vehicles remaining stranded on the highway for six days a week,” JKSECC members said.
“This scenario has led to colossal socio-economic problems, huge monetary losses, and trauma to helpless traders, transporters and the general public,” they said.
The members said that in normal conditions, more than 500 trucks ply on the highway for transportation of goods from either side. Out of these, more than 200 trucks carry fruits, vegetables, mutton, poultry, milk and other perishable items. About 300 trucks carry retail goods, raw material, and other items.
“The highway ban on Wednesdays and Sundays has impacted the transport sector, business, and tourist inflow to the valley. This ban has interfered with the bookings of tourists. The low tourist influx besides impacting hotel, houseboat and guest house owners has also badly affected thousands of tourist taxi operators, shikara wallas, pony wallas, handicraft dealers and the like,” the members said.
They further said that the state government should constitute a competent committee to assess and make public the losses incurred by various segments of business caused due to highway traffic interruptions caused by road widening and the two-day ban. They also asked for suitable compensation of these losses.
They appealed to the government to provide dependable alternative routes to connect the valley with the outside world.