Highway restrictions will badly impact tourism, economy: Kashmir Inc

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday said highway restrictions will have repercussions on the Valley’s economy besides causing inconvenience to commuters.

Addressing a press conference here, president KCCI Sheikh Ashiq said the order is unacceptable to all stakeholders.

“The order has been issued without considering its impact on the population of Kashmir and is indicative of the lack of awareness of local problems. At a time when the Kashmir Chamber has been raising the issue of lack of alternative routes and means of travel to Kashmir, the closure of the only available road link would put the whole population to unimaginable inconvenience and will have disastrous consequences for our economy,” Ashiq said.

 “We do not have a full-fledged rail link, or any means of water transport. Air travel, due to the wrong policies of the Civil Aviation ministry, is out of bounds because of high fares and heavy movement of security forces from the civilian airport,” he said.

“Even without the formal banning of civilian movement, travelling on the highway is already a nightmare and only necessary and unavoidable traffic movement is being conducted. The banning will bring further chaos and confusion. It will also impede the movement of goods including essentials like sheep, poultry, etc. and raise the transportation costs. Airfares would also escalate,” he added.

Ashiq said the decision to restrict traffic movement on the highway was “illogical” and would be condemned “tooth and nail” by Kashmir’s business community. “Numerous elections have been held in the state and at no point of time have we witnessed the creation of such paranoia and panic. It is unprecedented and alienating. The state needs to deal with the situation without encroaching on the rights of the public,” he said.

“The order will also negatively impact the inflow of tourists to our state and interfere with the booking schedules and plans of tourists. We are not aware of such a restriction of any tourist destination in the world. At a time when the government and tourism players are making efforts to revive the tourism sector, these actions would not be well taken,” said Ashiq.

The KCCI president said the order also disrupts the smooth movement of fruit-laden trucks from Srinagar for which April and May are critical months. The horticulture sector will also suffer due to the impact on the movement of fruits and vegetables.

He added that the KCCI seeks immediate revocation of the order and has sought time from the governor for a meeting in this regard.

ISRAELI-STYLE ORDER: MUSHTAQ CHAYA

Prominent Kashmir businessman and hotelier Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya Thursday demanded immediate revocation of the government order banning movement of civilian traffic for two days every week on the Srinagar-Jammu highway highway.

In a statement, Chaya wondered how the government could issue such an order which curtails the fundamental rights of the people in Kashmir.

“How could the government issue such an unreasonable order?” Chaya, who is the chairman of PHDCCI Kashmir and the hoteliers’ club, said.

Chaya said the ban will not only cut the valley from rest of the world but also bring untold miseries to the local people who are already under so much distress.

“On the one hand they are talking about bringing tourists to the Kashmir valley and on the other, they are passing such ‘Israeli-style’ orders,” Chaya said, according to the statement. “What is the message that the government wants to convey?”

Chaya said that a delegation of tourism stakeholders is visiting the Valley in next few days to take stock of the situation.

“What will they make out of the situation here when you block the roads for the civilian traffic?” he asked.

Appealing the government to immediately withdraw the order, Chaya asked the authorities to look for an alternative arrangement for the movement of forces’ personnel.