In Ramadan, multiple curbs on highway may affect essential supplies

In Ramadan, multiple curbs on highway may affect essential supplies

Srinagar: As the holy month of Ramadan begins, people in Kashmir are faced with a crisis situation due to shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables in the market, while prices of mutton will likely shoot up as supply trucks are facing multiple curbs on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
According to traders, the authorities are continuing to stop trucks carrying food meant for the Ramadan month in Kashmir.
“We are not able to cater to the demand of consumers as our supply trucks are being stopped frequently at multiple checkpoints, often for several days. No truck is allowed to pass without paying bribe to the police at Udhampur and Ramban districts,” said Shahid Choudhary, Joint Secretary of New Kashmir Fruit Association Parimpora.
He said that the unnecessary curbs had resulted in huge losses to business, “because we are forced to throw away the spoiled fruits and vegetables”.
“Our association appealed to the authorities many times but they failed to solve our problem,” he said.
Choudhary said that the highway ban and the fresh order of toll tax would also affect the supply chain and prices may escalate, putting extra burden on consumers.
“These curbs must end, otherwise we will face a crisis situation in coming days with prices shooting up,” he said.
The strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for many days due to landslides and shooting stones, which hampered the debris clearance operation, in recent months. Later, the government imposed a ban on civilian vehicles twice a week to allow secure movement of army and paramilitary convoys. Due to such curbs and prolonged closure of the highway, supplies have run short in the Valley.
General Secretary of the Mutton Dealers Association, Mehraj-ud-Din Ganai, said that trucks carrying livestock were allowed to move on the highway after being halted for more than 7 days.
“We faced huge losses due to death of animals in the stranded trucks. Policemen at multiple checkpoints continue to charge Rs 1,800 from each truck driver. There is a mafia raj which is affecting our business dearly,” he said.
According to him, the rates of mutton will rise if these curbs continue to stay on the highway.
“The highway ban has also given another chance to the mafia to grab money from truck drivers,” Ganai said.
President of Kashmir Economic Alliance, Yaseen Khan, condemned the continuous curbs on the highway and appealed to the governor’s administration to ease the supply of essential commodities in the month of Ramadan.
“Supply of essential commodities must reach the valley 24/7 in Ramadan because the demand of essential items increases manifold in the fasting month,” he said.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan admitted that his office had received multiple complaints about supply trucks being stopped on the highway and bribes take by policemen.
He said that strict instructions have been issued that “no supply trucks of essential items like mutton, poultry, fruits, vegetables and other perishable should be stopped.”
“We have also started investigating the complaints that some people have been demanding money from dealers and truck drivers,” he said.