Scarcity of essentials leads to overpricing

The Parimporamandi, located on the Srinagar outskirts—a hub of wholesale business of fruits and vegetables—remains closed for the past six days due to a halt in supplies.

Kashmir’s wholesale fruit and vegetable mandis are running dry on stocks and wearing a deserted look these days following shortage of supplies due to the continued closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway. 

The Parimporamandi, located on the Srinagar outskirts—a hub of wholesale business of fruits and vegetables—remains closed for the past six days due to a halt in supplies. 

Bashir Ahmad Basheer, president of the mandi, said this winter season was “most challenging” in Kashmir in the recent past. 

The mandi, he said, is second largest after the Delhi mandi, with 300 registered traders and has witnessed losses of around Rs 10 crore during 28 days of the highway closure this winter. 

“On a normal trading day, we receive almost 100 trucks with business worth lakhs of rupees. But due to road closure, we have not been receiving any goods at the mandi and are thus suffering massive losses,” Basheer said. 

“The only truck arrivals took place last week when the road was thrown open briefly. We received 450 trucks but most of the goods which reached the mandi after being stranded for more than a week had to be destroyed as they had deteriorated”.

He said during winters, the Valley is highly dependent on supplies of vegetables and fruits from outside the state, as local production is almost negligible. 

“The vegetables we receive during winters include peas, cauliflower, beans, brinjal, tomato, lady-finger from Punjab and Delhi mandis. We even get supplies of ‘kadamsaag’ from Jammu,” Basheer said. 

He said among fruits, bananas are most supplied but its imports have taken a huge hit. 

“In addition, grapes, oranges, pomegranates are also supplied from Maharashtra and Karnataka to Kashmir. But today, our mandi is without any fresh stocks. The only available perishables with us are a small quantity of grapes and kenu oranges imported via LoC trade,” Basheer said.

Meanwhile, Mehraj-ud-Din Nath, general secretary of Sir Muhammad Iqbal vegetable mandi near Tatoo Ground Batamaloo, said stocks of vegetables were available until Saturday but now a severe shortage is being felt.

“Potatoes, onions, turnips and some local Kashmiri vegetables are still available with us. But because of blanket of snow on vegetable cultivation, it is difficult to even get local yield,” Nath said. 

While there has been shortage of goods in the mandis and markets of the Valley, Kashmir’s business community has been in favour of making cross-LoC trade more robust to overcome the shortage due to the Jammu-Srinagar highway closure.