Highway ban hit supply of essentials to Kashmir, says Union Minister

Government of India has said that the ban on civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in run up to the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year adversely affected supply of essential commodities to Kashmir.

In a written response to a question by National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi, the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public distribution Danve Raosaheb Dadarao told Lok Sabha that the order which kept the highway dedicated for movement of security forces convoys two days every week – Sunday and Wednesday – “adversely affected supply of essential commodities, including supply of Food Corporation of India food grains, to the Valley during these months,” reads the Minister’s reply.

The state Home Department order banned civilian traffic movement on the highway, between Baramulla and Udhampur, from 4 am to 5 pm on Sundays and Wednesdays, from April 1 till May 31, to enable increased movement of security forces before and during Lok Sabha elections. However, the ban order was revoked in phased- manner.

The decision was taken after 14 February Pulwama attack which left 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men dead.

The Union Minister’s reply further stated that weather situation, and other problems also hamper movement of essential commodities to the Valley. “Due to snow/rain, landslides, bandhs called by various organizations and imposition of curfew etc, the movement of food grain stocks to Kashmir gets hit.”

The latest official figures have revealed that J&K imported goods and raw material worth Rs 58,050 crore in 2017-18, of which 60% of the goods worth Rs 34,800 core – was imported to Kashmir division.

The Logistics Ease across Different States (LEADS) Index has given only one index point to J&K, placing it at the bottom of the list of states having “worst logistic” connectivity in India.

The union minister in its reply goes on to say that the monthly requirement of food grains to J&K was 6259O.O9O MT.

“Also no lapse in meeting up the allocation has been reported to this office. Continuous effort to step up the induction of food grains in J&K has enabled Government of lndia to increase the stock position of the State from release of sufficient stocks under various Government schemes,” the reply reads.