The fruit of closure

Ramadhan is a month when the consumption of food items goes up sharply. But this year it was felt that the food items in the market were available in less quantities and the rates were, consequently, high. This was felt particularly about the fruit that is consumed in large quantities in this month. The quality of fruit available in the market isn’t what it used to be, and also the rates are high, in certain cases many times over. This is hurting a common person in Kashmir. The reason for this non-availability, low quality, and high prices, as the traders have been trying to underline for quite some time now, is the frequent closure of the lone road connection from Jammu to Srinagar. This year the condition of this road has been worse than ever before. One, an extended inclement weather played havoc with this road. Two, the work on widening and the tunnels contributed in its own way. Three, the government order banning the movement of civilian traffic for two days a week for some time also came as a shocker.

These reasons cumulatively affected the transportation of things from and to Kashmir valley very badly. If in normal times a truck load would reach the valley, starting from Delhi, in 3 to 4 days, it now takes even weeks to reach the destination. From the pure business point it doesn’t only mean extra money for transportation, it means loss of market hours. By the time the goods reach destination the market demand is absent. This causes huge loss to the traders. In fact, many traders suffered long term set back to business. In case of the fruit traders the problem is worse than others. The trucks carrying fruit getting stuck up for days, in certain cases for weeks, means it is all over. This is what has happened. While on its way to the valley the fruit turns bad, causing huge loss. Similarly the fruit going from the valley to outside spoils midway, incurring huge losses to the traders. Though late, but in a meeting with the traffic officials, it has been assured that the alternative road link – Mughal Road – will be kept open four days a week for fruit carrying trucks. May be it brings some relief, but the point is that the movement on the highway must be restored as soon as possible. After all this is the life line for all businesses in the valley. It cannot be left to the vagaries of weather. The works on this road – widening and tunnels – currently going on must be completed on a war footing. In a nutshell, the closure of this road brings a bad harvest in every sense.