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 'trafficmismanagement' along the key highway forces frequent halting of goods ladentrucks, inflicting losses worth crores of rupees.
"We do not believe in going for hartal (strike) but wewere forced to take this route as our goods are being stopped frequently on thehighway causing losses to the tune of thousands of crores," Bashir AhmadBasheer, president of the Parimpora Fruit Mandi association told reportershere.
"We raised the issue of traffic mismanagement several timesbut the authorities did not pay heed. We are in the process of calculatingexact losses which will be revealed later."
The traders also staged a protest at the Mandi in theoutskirts of Srinagar city and threatened to launch a stir if the governmentdid not mitigate their concerns.
General secretary of the association, Muhammad AyoubBhataccused the government of weakening the economy of the region.
"We protested for a full day against the deliberateattempt of the Governor machinery to weaken the economic situation of the(Kashmir) valley. Parimpora Fruit Mandi will continue to remain closed forTuesday as well," Bhat said.
He added the strike call was supported by FruitMandiAnantnag, Vegetable MandiIshajipora, Fruit MandiSopore, Trade UnionParimpora, Kashmir Economic Alliance,Shahr-e-Khaas Traders and Batamaloo Coordination Committee.
Other traders' bodies and political parties too issuedstatements in recently urging the government to allow smooth movement of truckscarrying perishable items on the national highway.
On Friday, traffic authorities issued guidelines saying"unnecessary haltage" of goods carriers loaded with perishables must be avoidedon this key road.
However, Parimpora traders say the "unnecessary stopping oftrucks is continuing on the highway".
Traffic authorities in the guidelines had said that vehiclescarrying fresh fruits, vegetables and livestock would not be "stoppedunnecessarily", especially between Lakhanpur and Udhampur.
The guidelines were issued after more than 500 Kashmir-boundtrucks laden with eatables were left stranded at Udhampur for a week recently,causing shortage of essentials in the Kashmir valley and inflicting huge lossestraders.
On Wednesday, fruit dealers from Parimporamandi held aprotest alleging traffic authorities of "forced stopping" of truckson the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. The fruit growers and dealers union recently wrote to DivisionalCommissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan, urging immediate steps for smoothtransportation of fruits and vegetables into Kashmir to avoid losses.