Jammu industry hit as Kashmir simmers
Hit by Kashmir unrest, the Jammu industrialists are exploring alternative markets in neighbouring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to sell their production.
Sources said that Jammu Industrialists have already started the process of manufacturing matching products to compete and grab markets outside the state.
"Jammu's industry is eying on snow bound areas of Himachal Pradesh to sell its steel, iron and other construction material as house building there is somewhat like Kashmir," sources said.
"The business of construction material produced at Jammu Industry mainly depends upon Kashmir and Ladakh but due to ongoing unrest demand has dipped and industry incurred huge loss of capital investment, said Anil Suri, former president Bari Brahmana Industries Association.
"Production involves manpower, raw material and attention which requires money, but due to Kashmir unrest approximately Rs 500 crore of Jammu Business community has got stuck with traders of Kashmir," Suri said, claiming, "Traders are unable to pay loan installments and many of them are likely to go bankrupt after half yearly closing of banks on September 30".
He said "Earlier Jammu's traders were reluctant to leave comfort zone (Jammu and Kashmir), but now we are seriously looking for markets in nearby states for our survival".
"We count state as one unit, Kashmir is rich in Horticulture produce while Jammu's industry is looking after other needs of Valley and Ladakh, but now we are forced to look for other markets to sell our products," Suri added.
However, Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCI) Jammu is yet to quantify the absolute losses incurred by the prolonged unrest in valley.
" The industry needs peaceful atmosphere for growth but Jammu and Kashmir remains disturbed on every alternate year, which adversely affects industry and flow of investment," said Tarun Gupta an entrepreneur.
"In 2008 we have suffered losses due to disturbance over Amarnath land row, which was followed by unrest first in 2010 and then in 2013 due to hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, while in 2014 the business was affected by devastating floods," he said, adding, "Our geographical condition is not like Mumbai or Goa so it's very difficult for us (business community) to sustain and survive if local markets become out of bound".
He said that unlike J&K, Himachal has established its name in pharmaceutical and food preservation industries in very short span."We are also mulling to invest in these sectors and sell our goods out of the state," Gupta said.
Rakesh Gupta president CCI Jammu said that loss of business in Jammu is uncountable and can't be measured in figures.
"The daily income of Jammu's industry on normal days is above Rs 150 crore, which could be more if Kashmir remains peaceful", he said, adding "From last two and half months tourist arrival is lowest, means business is also running in loss".