With the closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway for fifth straight day on Saturday, goods worth crores of rupees are lying stranded on this lifeline connecting the Valley to rest of the world and posing a threat of vegetables being destroyed and livestock succumbing to inclement weather along with unavailability of food and water.
Traders who are fearing losses worth crores, incase the highway continues to be closed have appealed authorities to allow goods vehicles to move on priority as soon resumption of traffic on the highway begins.
President, Goods, Transport Companies Association, MS Ronga told Greater Kashmir that almost 3000-4000 truckloads with goods such as vegetables, cooking gas, livestock, medicines and other essentials are stranded on the highway since one week. "It has been a norm that despite carrying essential goods, trucks are not treated as a priority and as a result perishables get destroyed. Often our drivers and cleaners run out of money," Ronga said.
President, Parimpora Fruit Mandi,Bashir Ahmed Basheer said 200 truckloads of vegetables and fruits worth Rs 20 crores are stranded on the highway. He said during one way traffic movement, trucks were not allowed to move towards Srinagar which led to piling up of goods vehicles on the highway.
"Had trucks been allowed to move smoothly during the one way traffic, it could have helped to overcome the shortage which seems to be imminent now," Basheer said.
General Secretary, All Kashmir Mutton Dealers Association, Mehraj-u-din Ganie said 30-40 trucloads of livestock worth Rs 3-4 crores are stranded on the highway, especially between Banihal and Udhampur.
Ganie said that mutton dealers have demanded construction of sheds by the state government at Ramban. " This can help us to transfer the livestock temporarily to these sheds till highway opens, " Ganie said. Commenting on the available mutton stock position, Ganie said it has drastically reduced ever since highway was closed. "If it continues to be closed, then we are in for worst. So we request the authorities that truckloads with livestock be allowed to move on priority basis," Ganie said.
Meanwhile, according to a Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department official, hundreds of trucks carrying LPG cylinders of various oil marketing companies are also stuck on the highway, which has led to a shortage of Indian Oil Corporation ( IOC) cylinders in various parts of the Valley. "With regard to the IOC cooking gas refills, we have contacted the company but restoration of traffic on the highway is the only solution in sight to this shortage," the official said.
When contacted, IGP Traffic, Shafqat Watali said trucks carrying perishables will be allowed to move on priority basis as soon traffic resumption on the highway takes place.