Fruit and vegetable traders started an indefinite strike Monday to protest against hassles they say goods trucks face along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway that cause losses to them.
The traders of these perishable goods say ‘traffic mismanagement’ along the key highway forces frequent halting of goods laden trucks, inflicting losses worth crores of rupees.
“We do not believe in going for hartal (strike) but we were forced to take this route as our goods are being stopped frequently on the highway causing losses to the tune of thousands of crores,” Bashir Ahmad Basheer, president of the Parimpora Fruit Mandi association told reporters here.
“We raised the issue of traffic mismanagement several times but the authorities did not pay heed. We are in the process of calculating exact losses which will be revealed later.”
The traders also staged a protest at the Mandi in the outskirts of Srinagar city and threatened to launch a stir if the government did not mitigate their concerns.
General secretary of the association, Muhammad AyoubBhat accused the government of weakening the economy of the region.
“We protested for a full day against the deliberate attempt of the Governor machinery to weaken the economic situation of the (Kashmir) valley. Parimpora Fruit Mandi will continue to remain closed for Tuesday as well,” Bhat said.
He added the strike call was supported by Fruit MandiAnantnag, Vegetable MandiIshajipora, Fruit MandiSopore, Trade Union Parimpora, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Shahr-e-Khaas Traders and Batamaloo Coordination Committee.
Other traders’ bodies and political parties too issued statements in recently urging the government to allow smooth movement of trucks carrying perishable items on the national highway.
On Friday, traffic authorities issued guidelines saying “unnecessary haltage” of goods carriers loaded with perishables must be avoided on this key road.
However, Parimpora traders say the “unnecessary stopping of trucks is continuing on the highway”.
Traffic authorities in the guidelines had said that vehicles carrying fresh fruits, vegetables and livestock would not be “stopped unnecessarily”, especially between Lakhanpur and Udhampur.
The guidelines were issued after more than 500 Kashmir-bound trucks laden with eatables were left stranded at Udhampur for a week recently, causing shortage of essentials in the Kashmir valley and inflicting huge losses traders.
On Wednesday, fruit dealers from Parimporamandi held a protest alleging traffic authorities of “forced stopping” of trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. The fruit growers and dealers union recently wrote to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan, urging immediate steps for smooth transportation of fruits and vegetables into Kashmir to avoid losses.