Highway ban to incur huge losses on Kashmir economy: KCCI

Calling the government order – banning of civilian movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway for two days a week – “ill-conceived and bereft of logic”, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) on Monday said that it will have huge impact on the economy of valley and demanded immediate revocation of the decision. 

While addressing a press conference here, president of KCCI, Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad said the implementation of the order has caused irreparable losses to the economy especially tourism and horticulture, considering ongoing season witnesses brisk activity for both the sectors.

“Business establishments and offices along the highway have been forcibly closed as a consequence of the ban. Normal life has been disrupted. The present condition of the highway prevents it from catering to the volume of normal traffic. It is frequently closed or only one way traffic allowed. The distance of around 270 km takes 15-20 hours. Reducing two days in a week will add to the existing chaos,” said Ashiq.

He said the order has created tension and anxiety among the common people and there is every possibility of the “situation getting out of control” if the order was not revoked.

“Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry once again urges the Governor to reconsider, in public interest, the decision of banning civilian movement,” he said.

Ashiq said huge losses are suffered due to impact of the highway ban by the sectors such as retail, transport, livestock, horticulture, tourism and other commercial activities. Ashiq said KCCI received several distress calls from commuters and traders on Sunday when the highway was closed down for civilian traffic adding that both “imports of goods and export of apples suffered losses due to the restrictions”.

“This seems to be the darkest era of governance in the Valley which is making our import and export suffers the losses. All the sectors, from day-to-day trade to livestock, tourism and horticulture are among biggest victims of this ban and we have been getting calls from people associated with various sectors intimating us of the scale of losses,” Ashiq said.

Ashiq said the chamber has sought a meeting with Governor Satya Pal Malik during which it will apprise him of the losses suffered due to the highway ban.