Highway mismanagement causing crippling losses to economy: Kashmir Inc

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Thursday said that lack of infrastructure and mismanagement of traffic on the national highway is causing ‘crippling losses to the state economy and suffering to the general public’.

“The frequent closure of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway due to landslides and shooting stones, unscheduled declaration of one way movement, the two days closure for movement of Security Forces and the harassment of travellers due to multiple check points has resulted in the development of an abnormal situation of people being dissuaded from using the highway,” KCCI said in a statement.

“Although the highway suffered from minor problems earlier also but the condition since last year has been unprecedented. The journey from Udhampur to Srinagar a mere distance of around 200 Km- has turned into a nightmare. Vehicles laden with goods have been stuck at various places for weeks together. Documents submitted by members of the KCCI show that some trucks have been stuck at Udhampur since April 10,” read the statement.

Transportation of livestock including poultry and sheep towards Srinagar and movement of fruits from Srinagar to outside has also been severely hit, it said, adding fruit transported from Kashmir has reached various mandis in a bad condition.

Tourist vehicles are also stopped and we have reports that tourist groups have often taken more than 20 hours to reach Srinagar which has disrupted their booking schedules and programmes. Tourists are therefore avoiding travelling by road. In view of the huge monetary risk involved, movement of perishable goods including frozen products has reduced to almost nil. Transporters are now flatly refusing to ply their vehicles on the Jammu-Srinagar Sector. Losses caused to various sectors are mounting as the sector has been rendered unviable due to the reasons enumerated above.

“The government needs to take immediate corrective measures to rectify the abnormal situation which is clearly moving towards an economic collapse,” it said.

KCCI also stressed the authorities for early opening of the Mughal Road and in this regard appreciates the efforts put in by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir for issuing necessary directions for diverting road opening machinery for this purpose.

The KCCI strongly recommends that the Mughal Road should be developed as an exclusive corridor for uninterrupted movement of civilian traffic during the summer months in addition to correcting the problems on the National Highway.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry also urges for conversion of the Foot Bridge to Motorable bridges, as originally planned adequate augmentation of personnel for management of traffic throughout the valley is also recommended.